The Serial

By J.D. Ho


My grandma fed me
things no proper mother would:
Tombstone pizza, Campbell’s soup, nachos,
cookies, and instant coffee. Together
we devoured show after show,
murder and espionage—
FBI agents with hidden pasts
and dangerous sides,
cops who could be there for strangers,
but not their own wives,
busybody spinsters no one
thought to suspect, and
M.E.’s digging deep
into the marrow.

There was no hiding
from Agent Cooper,
who could read dead letters
under the nails
of errant schoolgirls
like myself. There was no
hiding from Briscoe or Munch
or Felton, who caught
killers and dealers and cons,
the kind of men my mother
had craved
in the way an addict
wants her fix. I was
the wrong detective

to find her.
She hid

like no other. I tried
to be Logan and Green and Curtis,
searching the house for clues,
my flashlight in drawers
that hadn’t seen light
since my mother had used
them, finding only
photos she had
edited with an exacto.

Not even the long,
booze-soaked arm of the law
could locate her
(Why couldn’t they be
like the ones on TV?)
in the maze of her
paperless life. I couldn’t recall
the last time I’d seen her face.

Grandma refused to state the facts.
She, too, went on the lam
without packing a suitcase.
She didn’t say
goodbye. I stood
in the hospital next to
the bed where they tried
to save her life. A bloody sheet
of paper taped
to the foot of the bed
told the doctors
her name. I removed
the evidence and left
the hospital. In the wail
of sirens, the crash of cars,
the banging down
of doors, and the snick
of handcuffs,

I find traces
of her. I collect
fingerprints, epithelials, hair,
clothing fibers, and shoeprints.
But there are no witnesses
and no suspects,
not even a partner
in crime. Only
myself to interrogate.


J.D. Ho's essay, “Years of the Ox,” published in Kartika Review, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her work has also appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Catapult, and other journals.