James Ott is Missing

Published 2015
Hartskill Review

James Ott is Missing
Says a sign I have now walked 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

Izzy used to microwave mozzarella sticks for her dinner
That was when she was 9, 10, 11, and 12 though
Back when she lived with us. Back when she spoke to us.

Now Izzy’s 20 and somewhere in Portland
Some people know where she is, and how she is
But we are not among them.

The sign I walk past is neatly typed in large black
Bold letters and in the middle is a color picture of James Ott
Holding a medium-sized white dog.

I have no idea who is caring for Jame 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 and taped its top and bottom
And sides to the back of the bus shelter

After they enclosed the paper in airtight
Plastic so the rain would not
Harm it, hasn’t bothered to take the sign down

Because probably the person who made the
Sign is so damn happy and relieved that James Ott has
Returned that they are distracted from mundane sign removal…

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

Every day for a week
As I walk past the sign that tells me
James Ott is missing