Thirst That's Partly Mine
by Liz Ahl
2008, 25 pages
Winner of the 2008 Sapering
Hol Press Chapbook Competition.
black bear on my deck at 3 A.M.
will not be rushed away from what she came
one plastic tube of birdseed carelessly left out
the season of her greatest hunger.
Except for the occasional glint of fur-shine
she’s all shadow in the crisp, liquid moonlight.
tap on the glass, the pinch a dreamer asks for,
dimwitted by her appearance,
the fifteen-foot climb she had to make
for mere handfuls
of seed. She’s got the feeder
in her jaws, easily, like a dog on a bone,
and starts back down, rump first, over the edge,
claws scraping against the grain of the planking,
against her own growing
She has to let herself drop the last feet to the ground,
and when I know she’s landed, I creep out for a look.
Now I’m a threat, through
the glass and into her turf,
so she tosses a hoot up into the chilly air.
rough rustling from the yard’s edge, snap of branches,
and then, one each,
from two trees, her apple-round cubs
thump onto the grass, like the very fruit
they’re full of.
They bumble into the brush together. In my head,
voice recites the sermon about the ferocity
of mothers, what they’ll do for
I shouldn’t have opened the slider. She was hungry —
she weighed risk, parked
her cubs, didn’t ever see me
as a genuine threat. I was just a ghost beyond
a random tapping at the edge of her consciousness,
in hunger’s gaunt side. I was uninvited.
I should have been sleeping, but
fearful shadow in me was waiting to be scared awake
by noises, by suspicion.
Maybe I should have rolled over
and sunk back down into dreaming. She’s plodding
in that direction — the long sleep calling her
to store up for another winter.
Any creature might be
pushed by desperation, animated by gut fundamentals
to follow hunger’s taut rope through darkness.
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