Michael is missing, his mother tells me
as she buys Louis Lamour novels
in my Idaho Falls used bookstore
while the sky is streaked with black clouds.
Although we lived in the same small
town briefly and were the same age,
Michael and I never met but his mother
was a longtime friend of my father’s.
Michael’s hound howls from her Jeep
Cherokee. The dog was discovered
on the road between Blackfoot
and Pocatello where we drive often.
Her son was last seen with two strangers
in a bar across from the bus station
where my grandmother met the Greyhound
carrying me as a child to Idaho from Montana.
A month later, cops arrest two cowboys
driving Michael’s Ford Explorer
with blood in the trunk in Billings
where I was a reporter in the sixties.
His mother won’t stop until she finds
her son and puts his murderers in prison.
Michael’s body is found near Whitehall
where my father rodeoed in the fifties.
The murderers will die in a prison
near Deet Lodge where we spent the summer.
I understand the grief etched on her
face many years later when I lose my son.
Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published eleven poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014,) What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners (Cyberwit 2022,) Kiddos & Mamas Do the Darndest Things (Cyberwit 2022,) The Vultures are Circling (Cyberwit 2023) and The Leading Ladies in My Life (Cyberwit June 2023.) Her twelfth collection, My Grandfather is a Cowboy is forthcoming from Cyberwit in January 2024. Her work has also appeared in more than 50 different journals. She is the editor of Storyteller Poetry Journal, dedicated to promoting narrative poetry.