By Saudamini Siegrist

They’re my pearls. Why shouldn’t I keep them
forever? He knows nothing of obsession,
what it is to be possessed. He is a scientist.
Even then, science, the stars—
he stole them, to study them, he would say
but they belong to me. No one steals
into my room, into my drawers—
he has taken them out of the case
where I put them when he gave them to me.
Nothing like a gift to whet the appetite
of possession. To take back a gift is a crime.
I called the police, many times.
They’re on their way with fingerprint powder.
Fingerprints are lighter than dust
but the police will find them.
Plenty of fingerprints, no pearls.
What good are fingerprints, I’d like to know.
The dust they waste on one fingerprint
could seed a string of pearls and dust to spare.
I could filter sunlight through air with dust
left over after an oyster bed is seeded
with what they waste on one fingerprint.
But that’s their business, the police force.
I am an actress. An actress has little
or nothing in common with a policewoman.
Dust to dust. We have that much to share.
Not fingerprints, the touch is not retrieved,
only the map a finger makes of where it’s been,
what was, what cannot be again.
Nevermore, no, no fingerprints
in the patterns of their remains, like bones.
A fern or fish leaves its pattern in stone,
skeletons that haunt the bedrock
of primeval seas. But I am haunted
by the fossils of thieves. Search for pearls,
rather than traces of what is over and done.
Pearls are, themselves, the accumulation,
the increase, the… (Buzzer rings)
The police.



Saudamini Siegrist was born in Montana and grew up in the West and Midwest. She earned a doctorate in English literature at NYU and a master’s in poetry at Columbia, and has taught at St. John’s University and at Fordham University. Her work has appeared in Salamander, Free State Review, Studio One, The Worcester Review, Zone 3 and Al-Raida Journal and received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. She currently lives in New York City.

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