The Lady Who Found the Body Returns to the Police


Yesterday my fortune cookie said,

You’ll soon find

something important, and I didn’t


think nothing till this morning

when I was putting down toast.

Them wontons was burnt.


Whoever had burnt wontons?

When that toast burnt,

I ‘membered the wontons,


then the cookie, and maybe

the numbers on the fortune.

Sometimes I play the numbers


in the Pick 5; Aunty Clarisse won

10,000 at the Pick 5, so I don’t

play nothing else—and maybe


those numbers was what time

I found the body or the license

plate of whatever boy done this.


I’m sure those numbers would tell

you police something,

but I can’t find that slip. You said


I should say something

if I ‘membered something. Ricky,

my husband—two years now, thank you—


says I threw out the slip with the Szechwan

we forgot to stick in the fridge.

I was so upset. It’s better


as leftovers. Last night, when I laid down,

I kept dreaming about the grass

around her legs. I can’t remember


if this was in my dream

or if it was when I found her,

but the grass was black


everywhere around her skin—

by her face, legs, hands.

It was like black fingers


instead of grass, and the fingers,

black as leather pants, were touching

her, not like they’s evil


but like they’s brushing her

with some secret

ceremony for the dead.


I told Ricky I wouldn’t tell you

this next piece, but I’m here

and I can’t shake it: When the fingers


was about done, the body lifted up.

Not like it was alive, but like

it was being pulled up from the middle


by something invisible and holy,

and her fingers—that girl’s, not the grass—

were the only thing


that looked alive.

They was making threes

with both hands, but not


like we make threes

with our middle three, but with a thumb

and the next two like how my granddad


used to count, starting with the thumb,

when he was fixin’ to switch us.

You suppose if I’d been there


early I woulda scared him off? Ricky says

ain’t nothing nobody can do

about what’s done, but I wish I could


‘member them numbers. I swear

two of ‘em was three even if black grass

don’t mean nothing but a dream.

Copyright © 1999-2017 Juked