Henry Israeli

ON EVERY HAND A GREAT PLAIN By Henry Israeli
May 8, 2015 Henry Israeli

ON EVERY HAND A GREAT PLAIN

 

Two bears tearing at a tent

shred it to strips with their razor claws,

the whites around their big brown eyes

glistening yellow in the early light.

After they effortlessly crack apart the tent’s skeleton

they sit themselves down on the ground like fat generals

to survey the domain of their glorious wreckage.

When a hunter takes out the first one

the other seems surprised—but just a little,

the way at a party a man is surprised to hear his name

called out by a face that seems too old to know him

before realizing he once dated her in high school.

The living bear ambles over to the dead bear.

It looks confused, sniffs the thick red paste,

before the second shot

and the terrible pain that comes from everywhere at once

and then the ground so close to its eyes

and the taste of sugar, something never tasted before this day,

still lingering on its tongue.

Henry Israeli is the author of New Messiahs (Four Way Books, 2002). His poetry and translations have appeared in many journals including Grand Street, The Iowa Review, and Verse.