James Ott is Missing

Published 2015
Hartskill Review

Hartskill Review | J Brooke

James Ott is Missing
says the sign I walk past
for over a week.

according to the sign James Ott was
last scene leaving a bar called
Mumbles around 2 a.m.

Lots of people say being out
after midnight leads to nothing
but trouble! But what if James Ott

had flown in from London, in which
case it was more
like 8 p.m. to him instead of 2 a.m.?

What if James Ott flew in from Greece? Then
it was only 7 p.m. to him and he was probably seeking
dinner instead of trouble

Kaden used to microwave mozzarella sticks for dinner
that was when he was 9, 10, 11, and 12 though
back when he lived with us. Back when he spoke to us

Now Kaden’s 20 and somewhere in Portland
some people know where he is, and how he is
but we are not among them.

The sign I walk past is neatly typed in large bold
black letters– in the middle is a color picture
of James Ott holding a medium-sized white dog

I have no idea who is caring for James Ott’s dog
while he’s missing, but I’ve begun to wonder
if James Ott is in fact still missing

Maybe James Ott is home right now
holding his medium-sized white dog,
deciding what to wear to work tomorrow

and maybe the person who made the
sign taping its top and bottom
and sides to the back of the bus shelter

after enclosing the paper in airtight
plastic so rain cannot cause harm,
hasn’t bothered to take the sign down

because probably the person who made the
sign is so damn happy and relieved James Ott
returned that they’re distracted from mundane sign removal…

This is how I think we might behave
If Kaden ever comes home
again and this is the story I tell myself

every day for over a week as I walk past
the sign that tells me
James Ott is missing