Spooled across the dirt road, the bear,
dead. A melodious spent planet.
I smelled its hold-your-breath,
kick-to-the-gut of life
stopped short. Whirring atop
its flattened skull’s tire-track
tattoo, an unlucky wreath of flies.
I stood near the bear, hand
on chest. Not in some form
of prayer, but to press back
what had lain still.
I had a boyfriend who was struck by a car.
His death arrived like a gift.
I had wanted him to die.
His rage gobbled color,
I thought of him afterward
with a kind of shorthand:
Our legs beaded with lake water
His aversion to birds,
then beans. How good food
tasted when he wasn’t there
to share it.
The bear was left on the road to rot.
It seemed undignified, the menace
reduced to a malingering mass.
Now I see the wisdom
in allowing its slow surrender.
Why bury what will never stay dead?
First published in Red Sky: Poetry on the Global epidemic of Violence Against Women, (Sable Books, 2016).
Tina Barry’s work has appeared in The American Poetry Journal, The Best Short Fictions 2016, The Peacock Journal, b(OINK), Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (2017), among other journals and anthologies. She has two Pushcart Prize and several Best of the Net nominations.
Photograph by Shizhao.