Mourning the Midwest
for girls covered in fingerprints—
like tattoos
behind an electric fence.
Nervous numbers, twitching
like dying animals
before the crime scene photographer.
“This one doesn’t want to smile,”
he thinks, holding her up
as a tiny blue squeak toy.

He got started shooting portraits
for preschools and churches,
before getting promoted by his
father in law, the county sheriff.
But for him, these are all
the same subjects.

“Dust her one more time,”
the boss says.
And if she were still alive,
send her back
to the waiting room
to read another TV Guide
after filling out
another clipboard full of questions—
that have no answers because she
was sleeping
when he entered the bedroom.

“Dust her one more time,
anyway,” he says.

He does, and the fingerprints gleam below the black light
like jellyfish, undulating up, up, up toward a surface
of knowing.
A spiraling pattern of pink creatures that touch you,
as if the world were one giant insect nest,
waiting to be fed
like blind baby rabbits.

“I’ve got something here.”
The girl wishes she was not there.
She would say so, if she could.

“He was sloppy,” he says,
as he SNAPS another photograph
of fluids and fingers;
CLICKS down the trigger
on scratches and puddles.
His job is to document the leftovers of torture,
but to never mourn the Midwest—
the same way victims tend to.

“Funny,” he thinks,
“The only difference with this job now
is that my work is not sent along
in Hallmark cards
to grandmothers and neighbors.”
Sometimes, the crime scenes
are so beautiful
that he thinks they should be,
but souvenir postcards
and wallet sized photos
are not allowed
in this line of work.

written on 11/03/2010 by: Matt Kane