the bear

shaped by crushed clovers, negative space, three coarse hairs tangled on the rusted head of a bent nail, a patch of brown grass flattened to the contour of flank and jaw where the bear, embodied by two parts nightmare and one part shaved metal, the slow high squeal of cracking keratin on a yielding door, surely rolled in sleep as restless as mine, waited for the wall to part like breath or glass between us-

.

he is not hungry, fed on suspicion rather than flesh, his claws the same soft convex of my rapists’ fingertips as he reached slowly through dry May air for my hip; his eyes the same hung dark of a school night, chainlink rattle irises, hounds wailing in his pupils, bootprints in mud trailing from my child’s window as he slept-

.

the bear speaks in barking dogs, internet death threats, the voice of my father, the crush of dry leaves, tannic water rippling like a mirror melting as an alligator turns its gaze below the surface to focus;

.

the bear is you, I tell my beloved, knuckles white and wound in fabric as I sweat in the sheets of our bed, the bear is everyone, the bear is coming

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