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