She straddles the Y of the maple tree, the sheen

of her body, black brushstrokes scumbled with branchlight

and dust. You stare at her wild predicament.


No sound, but the hush of her quiets the neighborhood.

Fear and amazement crouch at the back of your throat.

You picture her a late night, roving appetite: haystack body,


stout ramp of neck, her slanting snout, slippered feet–

crossing yards and sidewalks, blacktopped streets,

dumpster diving after dark, silhouette like purling water


or a shadow sylph from the dark side of flower moon.


You watch two uniforms mount the floating platform

of the hook and ladder truck. A knot of unknowing twists

your gut when gloved hands pull the jabstick’s


tranquilizer from the velvet slope of black bear’s shoulder.

Time tumbles back. Years ago, Mom said No more animals.

Home alone, you heard the rumble of a truck outside, footsteps


banging up the 3rd floor stairs, a man in SPCA uniform, strange

hands reaching for your cat, hauled her out the door, your face

pasted to the window pane. You fought to keep your rattling heart


from clawing out your rib cage. You watch the bear hug tight the tree,

wish that you could love the way the maple loves, hold wild bewilderment

in your arms all day, like a fallen angel or morning prayer.


See the purses of black bear’s eyes unsnap, head sways, mouth

unhinges like the busted bucket of a stranded backhoe. You

look away. Pink muscle of her ropey, petal tongue dangles loose.


When a bear’s lost in town, I worry more about the bear than people,

you hear a woman standing next to you say. Catchers fluff the orange

rescue net. Two stories up, in cordoned air, strange man grabs and yanks.


Wonder how it feels to catch a falling constellation

in your hands. Not like moon, or song, or falling star—

black bear drops, ponderous as churchyard’s chiseled stone.


Hear haunt of wild animal hunger claw deep inside,

the way longing forever drifts you to an empty maple tree,

net of branches weaving shadows, hauls your breath away.