Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

Each One of Us a Bear

It was spring, sometime in April.

I’d lost myself because the world

demands that sacrifice,

      alone at night

among the wayward stars.



The body has a way of reading

      those constellations.

I tumbled ill and lay in bed,

felt the fever come and cover me

like quilts of boiling rain.



And in that storm the steam

rose off my neck and skin.

I drifted like a skiff

       in and out

and into consciousness again.



I waited for news from the depths

       of my universe

to tell me I was free and where to go.

But what came back I could not understand,

a vision in that headless fog.



A grizzly bear in front of me

with paws of ice and claws of bone,

swatted at the rain,

      that haze,

those drops of tiny fire.



He roared at the sky

as though he knew the reasons

for the heat of the rain

        in my reverie.

He was no spirit animal, no totem,

no living amulet.



We burned together, that bear and I,

we scarred

       together

each time a raindrop

broke through his guard.



There was no cave in which to hide,

       no swapping of places,

only the thrashing,

the liquid of thunder,

until he fell exhausted next to me.



And in that rain, we finally surrendered,

each one of us a bear,

       breathing slowing,

letting the coolness of our paws

be the sole moment.

About the Author

Aden Thomas grew up in the sagebrush country of central Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Chiron Review, Rust + Moth, Turtle Island Quarterly, and The Inflectionist Review. His first book of poems, What Those Light Years Carry, is available through Kelsay Books. More at: www.adenthomas.com.