Jennifer Schomburg Kanke

The Shape of the Body, 1979

Margaret Schilling, January, Southeast Psychiatric Hospital, Athens, OH

They say the cold stopped your heart,
the sun took your body,
made a monument of its rot.
White stain in the shape
of a Margaret, no one
checks unused wards.

Mary Calcutta, August, Orchard Apartments, Houston, TX

Something inside you bent the butcher knife,
the tip of its blade showing through your back.
He, whom they say you must have known, took it
from a drawer in your own small kitchen.
The police are still telling reporters,
that you fought harder than other women,
as if it makes a difference.

Jane Doe, November, Cornfield off of Rt. 20, Caledonia, NY

In jacket too light for the weather—
sixty men will claim your death.
All want the teenage girl with boy short hair
and thin plaid shirt. All want the bullet in the back.
Everyone knows now your panties were blue
and you’d let your hair’s highlights go too long.
Sixty men will claim your death.
All want tooth fourteen, holding on by just three nerves.
All want the heart-shaped keychain fastened to your buckle,
“He who holds the key can open my heart.”


Jennifer Schomburg Kanke is a visiting lecturer at Florida State University and previously served on the masthead of The Southeast Review and Quarter After Eight. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, and Court Green. Her favorite sweet is Oreo ice cream pie.

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