Beyond the boats freed from the dripping ice
and all the bewildered sailors,
beyond the breadth of the melting tundra,
finally, the last polar bear
paddling away from us with its head raised,
a female, it was later discovered,
though she reminded me of my father,
his stark white hair toward the end
and the hands constantly moving on the tray of his chair.
Billy Collins’s latest collection is Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (Random House, 2013). He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College (CUNY) and a Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute at Rollins College. He served as United States Poet Laureate (2001-2003).