Reflections on the Death of a Bear

He meant well, that curious bear,
but somehow he was never meant
for bus stops
or street lamps
or other, even more civilized wonders.
He was just an old bear from the country
who had never been to town before.
No wonder the city folks thought him a curious sight
with his snout in the garbage pails
or his tail in the clothesline.
“Look, Ma, there’s a bear in the back yard.”
“Oh, shutup and eat your asparagus.”
As the bear explored his new domain
the earth became hard and sullen,
the stars swooped down to shoulder level,
and pale, weak-kneed creatures
crowded the twilight with their calls.
“Casey, you and O’Brien take the squad car,
we’ve a bear reported in Robinson Park.”
Now alarmed, but still at home,
in the starry night, our bear
warmed the avenues with his pounding,
searched for a clearing in the woods,
growled at an alley cat
and a few wilder creatures;
then, frightened and lost,
he turned to face the bright-eyed lion
that sped through the night to pound him
senseless against a concrete wall,
battered his shaggy head
against the stone
till his bones burst
and his chest lay shattered
on the sidewalk.
“Casey, for God’s sake, why didn’t you shoot him?
Look what you’ve done to the squad car.”
“Mama, it really was a bear!”
“Yeah, and I’m Lauren Bacall.”