When Bea McConnell disappeared,
she was only eight years old,
and because of what our parents feared
the neighborhood went cold.

We saw the posters everywhere,
the broken nose, the curls.
The frightened words above her hair
said Have You Seen This Girl?

We started locking doors at night
though we never did before.
No matter the hour, we burned the light
that hung above our door.

Police put corpse-dogs on the trail
and dragged the quarry lake.
They looked in every open well
in hopes the case would break.

The Dive

A busted exit sign above the door
invites nobody to leave. The windows are barred,
and the panes themselves are painted over with tar.
No question as to what this place is for.

The regulars all stare into their drinks,
lamenting futures, forgetting pasts. Bar stools
are split at every seam. The Tavern Rules
say “No Cussing,” though no one hardly speaks.

They’re married to their grief, you think. But here
you are: Jack Daniels and your worries. The same
as any drunk who will not lay the blame
on himself: drowning instead in whisky and beer.