bear in the national forest

when it gets dark
we remember
the bear: body so big
both of us could sleep
inside him, the lumbering
we know is all choice.
his mouth an oversized
version of our little black
dog, full of teeth kept sharp
by branch and bone.
nylon is the only barrier
between us and him. it isn’t
enough, but we pretend
it might be. we hear
the bear in everything.
we don’t know how to handle
this wild silence. we busy
ourselves with our hands,
lips as distraction but
nothing happens. the fear
is bigger than whatever
we mash between us. we are soft
naked and our nakedness
makes us feel more prey.
it’s easy to forget ourselves
as flesh, as something to eat
uncooked and wet in the night.
in the morning we find bear
scat outside our tent. in the bright
bird sounds of dawn we feel
untouchable again.

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