When you came into my life, we were the same size still:
Three feet high, or there abouts, chubby, pear-shaped, prone
to all things sickly sweet; raspberry jam, vanilla ice cream, mostly honey.
Clumsy we were both but contrarian I was alone.
You were of the quiet kind: Soft outside and in, going about the
beary business in haphazard, bumbling, sleepy ways. Break a thing, you never did.
In play, I pushed you down the stairs one time.
Spread-eagled, paws apart, you lay balanced on your snout until,
sorry, wailing and inexpert, I stitched the woolly wound welling from your belly.
It was a messy business, stuffing back the stuffing
into where your coat had ripped, making sure no tuft was lost. I wished,
and still I wish, I had not seen the viscera of your faultless maker’s craftsmanship.
But on you, the hardest things sat easy: Serenity
and patience. Forgiveness too. Reproachless receptacle of snot,
tears, sorrow any size, absorbing all with that dulled and ill-stitched coat of yours.
They say you’re obsolete, but last night
I held your paw again. At last at peace.
“Ode to Bear” appeared in the first volume of
Aurora – The Allegory Ridge Poetry Anthology in 2020.