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Monday, September 05, 2016


by Jennifer Hernandez

Jacob Wetterling's mother Patty said the remains of her son have been found. "Our hearts are broken. I am not responding to any media yet as I have no words," Patty Wetterling wrote in a text message to KARE 11. The Stearns County, Minnesota Sheriff's Office confirmed that Jacob Wetterling's remains had been located. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner and a forensic odontologist identified the remains as Wetterling's Saturday morning. . . . The disappearance of Jacob remains one of the highest-profile child abduction cases in U.S. history. Wetterling was 11 when he was abducted by a masked man with a gun on Oct. 22, 1989, in St. Joseph, Minn. —MPR News, September 3, 2016. Above: Patty and Jerry Wetterling show a photo of their son Jacob. Photograph: Craig Lassig/AP via The Guardian, September 4, 2016.

We’ve been living with Jacob
for twenty-seven years
since he disappeared
from that stretch
of deserted country road.

I was in college then,
160 miles northwest on I-94,
didn’t watch much TV
or read the newspapers,
but I knew about Jacob.

Saw his smile on billboards,
milk cartons, the sides of semis.
My brother was fourteen that fall.
Did my mom’s gut clench then
like mine does now?

I am the mother of three boys.
The youngest, eleven,
Jacob’s age in October 1989.
We learned about monsters,
those of us who grew up with Jacob.

No free-range parenting for us.
I watched my boys like a hawk
even on the dead-end street
in front of my suburban home.
Probably I watched too much.

I would not lose those pieces
of my heart. Patty Wetterling—
I hope you know that we, the mothers,
are with you. We carry Jacob on our shoulders,
in our hearts. You say you don’t have words.

We cannot begin to fathom.

Jennifer Hernandez, Minnesota teacher and writer, has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage, a taxidermy-filled bike shop, and in the kitchen for her children. Her recent work has appeared in Minnesota Women’s Press, Mothers Always Write and Silver Birch Press, as well as Bird Float, Tree Song (Silverton Books) and A Prince Tribute (Yellow Chair Press).