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Susan Hayden
July 2023
Susan Hayden.jpg

Susan Hayden is a multigenre writer on a scavenger hunt for love, magic and home in a disappearing landscape. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies including Beat Not Beat (Moon Tide Press), Los Angeles In the 1970s/Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine (Rare Bird Books), I Might Be the Person You Are Talking To (Padua Playwrights Press), and The Black Body (Seven Stories Press). Hayden is the creator/producer of Library Girl, a monthly literary series in its 14th year at the Ruskin Group Theatre. She is the recipient of the Artist In the Community/Bruria Finkel Award from Santa Monica Arts Foundation. The proud mother of singer-songwriter Mason Summit, she lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband, music journalist Steve Hochman. Now You Are a Missing Person (Moon Tide Press) is her first published book.


our son asked, 

when I told him

his father was missing 

in the snow.

She was his favorite singer, 

this was to be her final tour.

She was seventy-seven.

He was eleven.

We had tickets to see her 

in concert that night,

had been planning it 

for months.

He cried when I told him 

we couldn’t go.


Our son was used to 

his father taking off 

to the woods 

or the rocks, 

some river or slope.

He could be late, 

get lost sometimes

or snowed in

but he’d always find us

and catch up to whatever 

we had planned.


Our son asked if his father

could just meet us 

at McCabe’s

when he got home.

But I had to say “No, 

this is more serious.”

I needed to drive 

to Mountain High

while listening to 

car-radio news updates.

I needed to wait there

for my husband, 

for his father 

to be found,

one way or the other. 


Our son asked,

when I got home,

if he could sleep 

in the bed with me. 

He knew they’d called off 

the search 

and his father was 

still missing.

“When will he be back?”

he asked repeatedly.

I lit a candle, 

turned out the lights.

From the bed,

when I looked up at 

the ceiling,

I could have sworn 

I’d seen the shadow 

of a skier, 

climbing uphill.


Our son was half-asleep

when I said,

“I don’t have 

a good feeling

about this.”

I held him in my arms

for hours. Only 

these days, 

when he tells the story,

he doesn’t even remember

my being there.

In the middle of the night,

I knelt in the kitchen

singing an Odetta song,

“Hit or Miss,”

trying to find comfort in

her rejoicing.

And finally, I stood over 

the trash can,

tore up 

the concert tickets.



You’re convinced your dead husband has entered the kitchen.

You’re packing snacks for a beach day with your adolescent son.

You’re on vacation so you let him eat Goldfish and read People magazine.

You’re allowing him to curse without having to put quarters in the Swear Jar.

You’re hallucinating your dead husband, who appears to be on a mission.

You’re aware that reunions can be a struggle for separated families.

You’re cringing when he announces a full day of planned adventures.

You’re fearless when you say, “We already have other plans.”

You’re not alarmed when he picks up a chair, throws it across the room. 

You’re either flat-out numb or not afraid of his anger anymore, or both.

You’re reminded of a dual character he once played on The X Files.

You’re sure it was a Monster-of-the Week story in an episode called Lazarus. 

You’re back to believing that the dead can come to life. 

You’re thinking of that man in Malaysia who awoke for two hours after he died.

You’re proud to be able to say to your dead husband, “I’m the one in charge now.”

You’re positive he never could listen to anyone when he was alive.

You’re learning that homecomings with the deceased rarely have happy endings.

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