Don’t be the Bear

Shannon Amidon

Yesterday a bear and our four-year-old
had a standoff at the kitchen slider. Neither

won exactly: both ran away. We blamed barbecue
from the night before, and the bright sunshine

after the long, dark winter. We just forgot,
the way the bear forgot there were people.

But today I’m at the lake, and there are three fishermen,
one brown bat clinging low to a sugar maple, and a fistful

of mysterious sequins on the ground, confetti mimicking
water beneath a moody sky: first nothing, then light.

And my oldest, 9, is reading on a screen, but it’s reading
so I’m okay with that for now, happy, because maybe

I’m doing a pretty good job, because maybe now that
it’s spring, and the daffodils have opened along the worn edges

of our old house, the house where my father grew into
my father, and the ice dams are not giving us so much trouble,

and the air pushing its way into our waiting lungs is damp
with future, maybe now I can find my husband beneath

his piles of newspapers and final exams, and take him to me
like the old days in our upstairs bedroom in Spokane,

a canopy of Norway maples above, a craft beer on the bedside
table, some music. Like the days when more of us were living,

when more of us longed for recognition, or money, or babies,
and more of us had less fear of time, before all the cancer,

or the suicide, when we shopped for things according to
their longevity first, and their beauty second. Waste: ever

forgetting grace, ever chasing whatever it is that the young

chase before their young come down the first slippery
river of humanity. So I remind myself: Don’t be the bear.

Don’t forget that the beautiful people make the beautiful smells,
that most doors open in every season, and nobody wins forever.

Shannon Amidon has had poetry appear in Copper Nickel, The Bellingham Review, RATTLE, Willow Springs, Memorious, Dogwood, Poet Lore and elsewhere. The recipient of a top Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize and a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Amidon currently lives in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts with her family.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Six.

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