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  • The Shirt, and: What Begins as a List of Things Lost to Him, and: Remainder
  • Margaree Little (bio)

The Shirt

Two years after we found him, the length of time, I’d heard,they sometimes hold the unidentified before they bury them,

I am bent over a computer screen with a man in a suitwho is showing me the database they use, how you can search

by date found for the case number, the case. And pictures,he says, clicking on the photographs of the clothes—

as though by looking hard I could go back, to when we found himand the minutes before that, when we followed the trail

that we found as we were walking it, finding and walkingso aligned I think we could have closed our eyes,

like a girl practicing free throws in the snow in the drivewayuntil not only her mind but her body understands it;

and looking now I know what I forgot: the blue-grayHenley shirt with its long sleeves, one wrist fraying. [End Page 118]

What Begins as a List of Things Lost to Him

Hands getting cold at night. Light flashingthrough the chain-link fence on the bridgeover the dammed river from El Paso, sun getting low

in the west so the light comes fast between the shadows.And Betty’s minestrone soup and Peter’s breadin their house in Juárez, and outside in Juárez

the sound of dogs barking. And the evening, and the fishthe woman next door fries when Betty and I visit,and the woman’s daughter, Selia, who is seventeen—

Age, is that lost? Lost, the idea of seventeen?Selia, who has two braids tied with different-coloredrubber bands, one blue, one red, her hair

dyed the soft red of carnations.Lost, the feeling of shame, of shyness?What about the feeling of being far from home?

And Betty’s hands on my hands in the yard at night,and the sky in the morning above Selia’s streetlike a field of lemon trees, just as pale, just as simple. [End Page 119]


The idea being to go back to the canyon and fix up the shrine, to bring new candles, yellow mums, we go. It’s October, and eight months since we were last there, so I ask the others to remind me where to turn through the barbed-wire fence, and Wendy takes her inhaler out at the steep part—she’s moved to Michigan, her lungs, on this short visit back, not acclimated to the air here. At the fork in the trail where the rocks are white Annie stays by the altar we built, and I go with Wendy down into the wash as we did before. The wooden cross we found by him, two sticks tied together with grass and string, is still there. The red bowl Wendy brought last year to burn sage in, and a yellow candle someone else must have left, its glass container cracked. And placed next to the candle, I’m sure it was placed, a bone the size and shape of a shoulder blade, ridge of thicker bone at the top flaring out in two directions. It’s so light, Wendy says, lifting it, putting it back down. Around us the wind picks up as it does near the ocean. [End Page 120]

Margaree Little

Margaree Little’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, New England Review, the Missouri Review, and the Southern Review. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.



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pp. 118-120
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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