The body of a cat was found before the arm of a man was found under the back porch of an abandoned gingerbread house, on I Street in Washington, DC, in the early evening of August 8, 1908, as police had been informed about the arm by a grocery deliveryman, who had been poking the dead cat with a stick when he dislodged the arm. So, police found the witch, brought her back to her old home.
She eyed it as someone who knows the bones of the place, knows its potential.
No, she had not been there in years. No, she had no idea. Could she see the arm?
No, she was not aware of the attractive nuisance doctrine.
What she wanted to know was whether the deliveryman had seen the bright tapestry of the cat’s eyes when it fell into the streetlight. She tried to explain the significance of the glow to the officer, who could not let the case go, returned over and over to the crumbling walls and sagging icing gable trim carved to resemble woodland creatures and board-and-batten shutters made of licorice.
The scrolling brought him back, long after she was let go, but someone else would discover the medical students next door, who had discarded the arm after the end of term, once its usefulness had expired, once they had learned what they needed about that part of the human anatomy, what they were required to for examinations. They could not see it any other way.
R. Mac Jones
R. Mac Jones’ work has appeared in ellipsis…literature and art, Star*Line, and Shot Glass Journal, among other publications, and he is the co-editor of Found Anew: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the South Caroliniana Library Digital Collections.
Artwork: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Madame Melie with Cat, 1944