The detective walked on to the crime scene,
eyes teary from the smell of rotten cabbage.
She scanned the piles of brown and green
before focusing on the human damage.
The victim was young, tall and lean;
his prime stolen by some sinister savage.
“Probably between ten and thirteen,”
said the M.E., “Looks like a 12-gauge.”
The detective returned the M.E.’s glance
and saw the words he was slow to tell.
“Yes, it is,” he threw up his hands.
“Another dead by the Killer of the Carousel.”
She closed her eyes and tightened her stance,
inhaled deeply, preparing for hell.
“I’d hoped it was over, this ritual dance,
but now I see it will never end well.”
Twenty years ago, she had caught a fresh case,
a death at a carnival, her first painful shock.
One memory the detective could never erase
was the shape of the body painted in chalk.
Back then it was a girl, all pig-tails and lace.
“Nothing prepares you, no lecture, no talk,”
her Captain had told her, giving her space.
“This grief, this path, you alone must walk.”
The media coverage was constant and bleak -
murder and gore, a ratings sensation.
More victims were taken week after week,
pulling her into a black hole of fixation.
When a roguish reporter made her misspeak,
that odd nickname was born from total frustration,
and vaulted her prey to an infamous peak -
a star in the serial killers’ constellation.
No evidence, no clues, no traces were left.
No connections were made, the killings were random.
The detective received letters, mysterious and deft,
that promised an answer if she solved a conundrum:
“What remains of the lover’s heart once cleft?
Who, once jilted, can return to solitary humdrum?”
She would come to believe this artifice was theft;
it had kidnapped her mind, and she paid the ransom.
The letters had stopped along with the killing
after four years of time spent chasing the lives lost.
Until this victim was found in fetid cabbage swilling,
her life and the Killer’s had gone on uncrossed.
In her mind she had rode round a carousel chilling,
circles of self-doubt spinning up at great cost.
“Chalk it up to experience,” a cliche unfulfilling,
was always the throwaway comment tossed.
Standing in that field, full of death and rank,
the detective could see the lines connecting dot-to-dot.
Inspiration filled what once was always blank,
A constellation of lateral leaps of thought.
A heart cleft by a lover loveless and frank
is tilled like a field and ready to pot.
Only once the soil yields ripe fruit to yank
can the lover be healed, can the heart be rewrought.
The conundrum was solved, the riddle clear.
The Killer could now be finally revealed.
The detective had left her husband that year
before the first victim’s fate was sealed.
Another marriage had cooled his evil sear,
but that wound could never be fully healed.
Just last week, she had happened to hear,
divorce was decreed; and now a Killer afield.