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In a Historic Vanishing Act

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

By Rebecca Martin

the woman with blunt force trauma from thousands of years ago gets back her face but not her

name. In the podcast about the missing woman, the host interrupts to talk about a diet that can

change your life. It’s not a diet at all. The missing woman was riding a hot-pink bike. The

missing woman made herself too small, and now no one can find her. I try for several minutes to

name the expression on the facial reconstruction. DNA testing conclusively rules: the younger

woman in KV35 is not Nefertiti or any major royal wife, but the artist decides she looks best in

regalia anyway. Ibis green painted at the collarbone. The men who found her loved an open

wound. All I know without looking at my notes is the holes in her body suggested a violent

death. For weeks I nightmare what was said about the missing woman on the podcast. I wish it

were metaphor: the stitching around the eyes. The ice gathering around her fingernails, in the

hollows of her elbows. I try narrating my life like the women who shill VPNs and online therapy

while telling me about someone’s mother who died never knowing her daughter slept at the

bottom of a pond. When I walk to my car, I hear her. Fish silvering next to her perfect teeth. If I

think about my movements like they could be recounted in an episode of Dateline, they start to

mean more. I want it to teach me something. I want to show myself a picture of the missing

woman and ask, do you think she should have been trying to make herself smaller? The body in

KV35 was waiting for wisdom to erupt. The body in KV35 wore a shorn skull that made gender

difficult to determine. In this way experts could not agree on cause of death. This is where I was

last seen. Water drips from the pedestrian tunnel. Walls sway over me: a tomb


Rebecca Martin (she/they) is a queer poet with work appearing in Nimrod International Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Peach Mag, Muzzle Magazine, DATABLEED, Cotton Xenomorph, and others, and received an Honorable Mention in Gulf Coast’s 2022 Poetry Prize. They are a recent graduate of Oregon State University's MFA program, where they were the recipient of the Graduate Creative Writing Award in poetry. She currently teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of poetry chapbook High-Tech Invasions of the Flesh (forthcoming from Bottlecap Press).

Enjoyed Rebecca's work? Send a tip straight to her Venmo: @rebecca-martin96

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