It was a hot one.

A scorcher, and the man was sort of gray.

The grandfather they assumed, at 61 the gray man looked every bit of 81

and some recalled a package on the seat beside him;

some said, could've been a present.

What everyone remembered was the girl.

Pretty white dress and white lace anklets.

Fidgety and turning in her seat.

She giggled and she beamed, know-what, she said, first to one and then another, 


The porter called Westchester and the gray man was certain

someone would remember,

at the station when he tried to take her hand

and the little girl ran away.

Heart racing. Handkerchief dabbing beads of sweat.

For a moment he was certain they all knew.

Until he felt a tiny hand tug his trouser leg,

know-what, she said, you-forgot-you-left-the-present-on-the-train;

she giggled and she beamed and she held the package out to him

so proud that she remembered.

She could just see mama clap her hands and say,

My, aren't you clever, and, You're such a big girl now.

The package.

Instruments of Hell, the gray man said.

He brought her to a cottage almost hidden in wisteria,

Pick a nice bouquet of flowers for the party

he left her in the garden picking flowers in the sun.

Inside, he stripped and stroked himself

and watched her from the upstairs bedroom window;

so close now, the gray man called,

Come here my little dear...

Someone at the station would remember, he believed;

someone must remember, that day she held the package out 

and she had been so proud.

But seven years went by without a word.

Seven years, until the day the letter came.

Addressed to the mother of the girl,

unparalleled, in both content and intent,

the letter opened with a tale of missing children 

and practices brought about by famine in the East;

how she did kick, and bite and scratch, the letter said 

and ended on a note of caveat,

her daughter died a virgin,

assurance far more dark than it was gray.

Once they traced the letter to the gray man 

he led them to a hole dug roughly seven years before,

where he laid to rest those parts of her 

which he had not consumed.

It had been a scorcher, some remembered.

And some recalled a package that could've been a present.

Instruments of Hell, the gray man said.

The porter called Westchester

and now seven years too late,

what everyone remembered

was the girl.

-for Grace Budd

Un*par"al*leled (?), a.

Having no parallel, or equal; unequaled; unmatched.

The unparalleled perseverance of the armies of the United States, under every suffering and discouragement, was little short of a miracle. Washington.


© Webster 1913.

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