by Richard Beban
Peter Wolf told how the bear
entered his lodge as he lay
fevered with smallpox. The animal sat,
back to the boy,
thick brown pelt smelling of
humus & pine, scratched
its huge furry breast. "I did not know,"
Peter Wolf said, "if I was dreaming.
The bear left, returned, repeated
the same gesture. When my father came
we talked & agreed, surely the bear
had mercy on me. After that, I worshipped
the bear, & in the dance wore anklets
of bear's teeth."
The boy next door tells of the bear he saw
while grazing channel to channel.
It caught a salmon,
swiping its huge paw into the space between
the beer commercial & the crying family
on Oprah. His mother took him to the
Disney Store, bought him a stuffed bear from
Just-So Stories, which sits with the other toys
in his closet.