The Body in the Library

by Jane Yeh

It always starts with a dead girl

somewhere in the picture:

Lukewarm and pretty, in an organdy crinoline,

One arm sticking out from under a credenza.


There is a foreigner with dark hair and a secret

Who says Eet ees not me! when he is questioned;

A shady dressmaker who’s missing a finger;

A doctor struck off for fiddling with his patients;


Another girl, in a bedroom (the second victim),

Dolling herself up in French scent and mascara.

Pretty lips and curls smile back at her from the mirror.

She has a date with the killer. She just doesn’t know it.


The detective follows the clues. He is a metaphor

Like the girl in the library, like the guilty pistol,

Like the dressmaker’s friend with a fatal knack

For murdering women, like the end of a story


Or its aftermath: the part that doesn’t get written,

Four years later, when the case has been closed

And the bodies have been forgotten— how the dead

We have failed to keep remembering are alone.