David Huddle

Bear Sometimes Thinks He’s Dead & Shelf Life
February 19, 2021 Huddle David

Bear Sometimes Thinks He’s Dead



But lately he’s observed the Hermit Thrush
that comes to the same pool of spring water
to sip where he goes to appease his thirst
with larruping gulps.  Bear wants to offer
all his secrets to this speckle-breasted
lonely sweet-voiced creature, wants to tell
her, Look at me–I’m ancient or else dead
and dreaming, but I know this forest with all
its scents and tastes, hiding places, look-outs
and glades; I’m admired by fire ants, wolverines,
and hawks; I’ve loved sows and sired cubs without
regret or thought; I’m half a ton of obscene
biology on its way to oblivion–
Oh heart’s dear one, forgive me this affection!



Shelf Life


…the length of time for which an item remains usable, fit
for consumption, or saleable.
–Google Dictionary


I think of ladies’ cashmere sweaters stacked
on display tables that when I thought no one
was looking I lightly ran my palms over
when I was fifteen and working part-time


as a warehouse helper at Leggett’s. Girls
I went to school with wore such sweaters, which
I dared touch only in my dreams. My hands
slyly served their apprenticeship,


so that when it became possible to touch
a sweater with a girl inside it, they were
ready for the next leg of that journey.
I’m seventy-six now, my shelf life expired


decades ago, and I stay out of department
stores for reasons I alone understand.

David Huddle teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English.  His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in The American Scholar, Esquire, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Poetry, Shenandoah, Agni, Plume, The Hollins Critic, and the Georgia Review.  In 2012 his novel Nothing Can Make Me Do This won the Library of Virginia Award for Fiction, and his poetry collection Black Snake at the Family Reunion won the Pen New England Award for Poetry.  Huddle’s novel The Faulkes Chronicle appeared from Tupelo Press in Fall 2014, and a poetry collection, Dream Sender was published by LSU Press in Fall 2015.  In 2016, a novel, My Immaculate Assassin, appeared from Tupelo Press.  Another novel, Hazel, was published in 2019, and his most recent poetry collection, My Surly Heart, was published by LSU Press in 2019.  With Meighan Sharp, Huddle has co-authored a poetry collection, Effusive Greetings to Friends, which will be forthcoming from Groundhog Poetry Press very soon.



**Photographer:  Molly Huddle Coffey