April 2013

Five Strands

Juárez cops handed them over—
five strands of hair
they were clumped in her mouth
were they shoved in,
placed carefully
or accidentally left there?

curiosities rarely get true answers

my hand reached for the
tightly wrapped package
all cops carry evidence in sealed envelopes.
the claim
—to preserve the integrity of the material.

evidence is cared for far better
than a victim in this business.

i found envelopes cut
down the ick
factor. seriously, who wants to the touch torn
and soiled items of strangers?
this stranger?

thirteen-years old
left naked
in a dumpster with those five strands of hair
in her mouth—an incident.

sanitizing language does nothing for her
it only helps those left behind

they ask, “how much pain did she feel?”
narcissism masked for concern.
what else can it be?
no matter what the answer
dead doesn’t change

the two Mexican cops came to my El Paso laboratory
I knew nothing of the murders happening
just fifteen minutes away
one of many…
so many

in 1998 five years had passed
since the first victim was noticed

today, 20 years later

so many

before she opened her mouth,
releasing all she knew
nothing had ever been found.
wore traces of anyone away
save the victim
—not true—
others have gone missing
Las Desaparecidas
sounds so magical in Spanish doesn’t it?

it isn’t.

i’ve heard the cops de allá don’t care
son pagados

i saw none of that.
i saw five years of sorrow,
in their eyes clung the death seen
their noses held the
putrid scents
that choke
they spoke of los cadáveres while focused
on a non-existent spot on the floor.

in their ears
muted screams
common for little kids who whack their heads
and parents who are forced to identify daughters’ remains.

we also suffer from narcissism—criminalists do
why not?
tv shows are devoted to us.
in the crime lab those who dabble in DNA
decode the God sequence
but, still my skill only compared
in these cases nothing was known

on the job
no magical piece of evidence existed.
spirits of the dead didn’t guide me.

justice is lost to some
justice was lost to these women

oddly enough
the legal world is ruled by a woman
forced to carry a heavy huge book in one hand
and cold heavy scales in the other—I bet they cut her skin
she can’t even fix the falling dress over her shoulders

i bet a man designed that statue

looking at the hair beneath the microscope didn’t help
the frail, light brown strands
belonged to no one I compared them to
not her mother
not her father
not her brother
not her cousin.
not Her.

i guess if it were that easy
the number of pink crosses
wouldn’t rival the sand granules in the desert

this is one of the many many reasons
i left my life of crime-fighting.

first there was no
cool spandex outfit, but no
real fighting happened

only reactive clean-up.

i was tired of
sifting through the refuse

i scrubbed my hands at the end of my days
in the lab
still, the aromas

—Marianita Escamilla

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