24 June, 2021
You are a campfire and the bear
in the woods we were warned about.
That VHS tape with all the white lines.
You are the overplayed movie about
the campers who befriend a wild
bear by sheer magic and only one
of them gets eaten. You are the berries
in the bear’s stomach the eaten camper
strings together to make a rope
to climb back out of the bear,
chanting a tune his father sang
so in bad moments, like a bear’s throat,
he is really in a kitchen toes on tile
watching his father love the radio.
Then suddenly you are the bear’s teeth —
mouth wide with surprise as the camper emerges
healthy though a little sticky and slathered
in berry juice. You are the flowing canteen
and applause, the newspaper headlines,
the forest that disappears in darkness
only to return the next day and the next.
You, campfire black and cold as a shrine.