Campfire Story

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.

Amanda Hartzell

Amanda Hartzell holds an MFA from Emerson College in Boston. Her work has appeared in New Letters, Paper Darts, High Shelf Press, Petrichor Journal, and The Knicknackery among others. Her writing finished as a finalist in Glimmer Train and won the Alexander Patterson Cappon Prize. Originally from eastern PA, she now live in Seattle with her son, husband, and their dog.

Contributions by Amanda Hartzell