“Jane Doe #2”
by Don Thompson
Under a dim, voyeur’s moon,
just enough light
to see and not be seen—
light by which someone watched her
perch on one leg like a night heron,
shaking a pebble from her shoe.
Silver spike heels, little black dress
and pearls dangling—
miniature moons in the moonglow.
Parking lot behind a club,
no neon back there and no one else
hidden close to the Beamer
he knew would be hers…
In fact, she’d dressed down
in loose sweats
manufactured to sag
in some Indonesian sweatshop—
And under that moon, synced
to his obsession if not much else was,
as she dawdled along the path
among trees with their backs turned,
heavy and light-speckled
in Renoir’s manner, distracted
by who knows what loneliness,
playing in her mind for the hundredth time,
or what innocuous fantasies
of her own.
Maybe even unanswered—unanswerable
prayers for someone consistent
a man with paycheck stubs
and gas in the tank.
For once unlike herself:
a girl whose skeletal remains
would be found (no surprise)
next to unmatched socks.
He might’ve let her pass
and with her sluggish demeanor,
not likely to fight back,
spoiling the fun—
if not for the pearls worn with sweats
(and who can say why)
that doomed her, ending up
scattered in the moonlight.
Merely a trite detail, nuisance
for the cop assigned to collect,
number each one
and pencil-dot its position
on a sketchy map.
Map and pearls bagged,
warehoused and forgotten now.
Not real, of course, nor cultured:
no oysters involved
any more than love in the gift.
But how fake?
Heft, illusory luster or sheen,
misshapen with nicks like fish bites?
just slick, insubstantial plastic,
milk white and unconvincing.
An insult she cherished.
None of us would wish that bust
on our worst enemy—
such an unlovely and lumpy
Unveiled at a press conference,
all shrugs and double-talk,
brass in striped pants blathering
while she stared—flat affect
with no one’s nose
and lips like the forensic sculptor’s ex.
Useless anyhow without eye color
and only a wild surmise about hair—
a shopworn brownish wig, askew.
Caucasian could be anything
from Appalachian paste to suspect melanin.
And also useless,
that trinket necklace, faux pearls
cast before an authentic swine
who trotted off without bothering
to trample them.
someone somewhere should’ve flinched
seeing her earrings—
luckless horseshoe pendants
displayed so hopefully
on pierced ears.
Don Thompson has been publishing poetry for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Hoffer Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.