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Tiff Holland

Positive Identification

Memorize all his parts, not just
lips, eyes, the intimate tools,
tiny erect nipples tangled in red
hair, the spot where you can most
easily imagine him as a mere boy.
Sure, count the freckles, the moles
you worry over, the pounds he frets, but
commit to his scent, to the pink scrapes
of knuckles where his skin becomes so
dry it cracks, and he superglues
himself back together.
Stroke the quarter-size Achilles-like
blond-spot on the back left of his other-
wise reddish, receding, head of hair. Freeze
in time his aura, above you, the last time
you make love
remember when he asked
what it felt like "going in"
him, going in to you
the serious voice you could never mistake
for anyone else’s, to say what lovers say
and sometimes tire of saying, or assume,
after time they needn’t say.
Never assume anyone is coming back
from just going out to get the mail
shirtless, in gym shorts and cheapo
Walmart tennis shoes covered in blue
paint speckles, his arm hairs wound into
sweaty rosettes, his whole body spiraled
tightly to itself and away, with heat
and humidity. You never know
the unknown, stare at:
what's a body doing in your yard?!!
The deputy says there's no identification
on him, no shirt, hands you a stack
of envelopes some with his name,
others with yours or both as well as dirty
tire tracks that match the dump truck
across the street, a County Sheriff circum-
navigating its rusty red body, with a shiny
aluminum citation holder, the pen moving,
up and down, even from a distance, you can
see check marks being made, words circled
as the white sheet billows down over your
officially unidentified husband
half units you called yourselves
when you worked in the cop shop
on his bed of grass. You’re asked
without being allowed to look. Every
one holds you back when you try to charge
over and around the split wide-open tree
to see for yourself, know certainty, so as to
definitively deny. Is it good to know Love
by skinny calves, socks that always roll down
a bit at the top, the exact shade of paint
flake and speckles, Jackson Pollocked
on the socks, the chapped knee caps,
the no-name shoes?
The faces of friends across the street make
the identification for you while the sheet flutters
billows, settles. You're in cooperation
answering from dealing with authority mode
all yes sirs and no sirs confirm, yes,
he's my husband, because who else
would be dead with your mail in your yard?
But thinking mine, mine,no! no! no

Tiff Holland's poetry and prose appear regularly in journals and anthologies. She is the author of the novella-in-flash "Betty Superman" and currently lives in Central Texas. 

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