Joanne Leva


We arrived at the impound lot early, before the office opened, before the dark forces emerged from their stupors, to find the gate was open, so we pulled in and parked near the building. I spotted the Jeep right away. It was resting in front of a dumpster. Myriad muddy cat prints covered its hood. A thick white cotton sheet was gracefully draped over the open driver’s side window.

We approached the vehicle and could see all other windows were closed. ‘DEAD MAN’ ‘9/26/21’ ‘BIO/HAZ’ were scrawled in almost-permanent yellow paint across both passenger side windows. The thought of it displayed on the car parked outside of our house, in our neighborhood, the neighbors, his gravesite.

She reached into her pocket, pulled out a copper penny, and began scratching at the words dead man on the window. Yellow dust accumulated in powdery lines on the glass. The sun rose on the Delaware River about a hundred yards away. Across the water, luxury homes are under construction.

Heading back to the office to settle the bill, we noticed two ears pop up from a furry feline body tucked behind a tire. Then two more. And then a whole cat body. A Calico mama cat with her black kitten played on the dirt at my feet. The baby on its back. The mom gently nudged and lovingly biting the nape of his neck.

The office attendant was kind enough to move the Jeep off the lot so AAA could retrieve it. 

While we waited for the tow, we examined the crime scene:

In a large white kitchen trash bag, I placed two Bed Bath and Beyond coupons, a crumpled Lactaid tablet wrapper, a cigarette butt smoked (or burned) down to the filter, an Montgomery County Poet Laureate pen, a bank balance receipt, four cans of Miller Light floating in cold water, a small Styrofoam cooler from 7-Eleven, a flat-brimmed hat with the 76ers logo, and a black mask.

In a small white bathroom trash bag, I placed a sky-blue rubber strap, a tiny plastic bag the size of a button, a little silver bowl that looked like a bottle cap with no thread, a small pipe for smoking weed, and a few pipe cleaners.

In a plastic bag that once held apples from the grocery store, I placed his sunglasses, the vehicle registration, insurance card, and his iPhone. Then I threw the large bag in the dumpster and carefully wrapped the small bag and the apple bag in a freshly washed bed sheet with sage green ruffles and placed the collection of my husband’s last moments in a ‘go green’ bag from Whole Foods.

The recycled bag now sits on the picnic bench on the back porch, a crime scene under an awning. 

I sit next to it and feel comfort. To know he’s home. To know he’s here. To know he’s finally free.


Joanne Leva is author of two poetry collections, Eve Would Know and Eve Heads Back. Her poem, “God Walks into a Bar,” was featured in a Philadelphia Calligraphers’ Society Poetry Reading & Exhibit. She is founder of the Montgomery County (PA) Poet Laureate Program (MCPL). Go to: to learn more.