A Fairy Tale Beginning
We sat up late drinking and talking
and watching the temperature outside
drop forty degrees as we waited for a
wolf to start stalking our cabin door.
Nothing happened, except we got cold
after the fire died.
You wrapped yourself in an old blanket.
I crawled under the gray fireplace ashes,
pulled them best I could over my head.
That’s how we were when found after
the sun eventually rose the next morning.
You resembled the fair maiden in distress
you’d become around four-thirty a.m.
I looked and felt like some kind of beast.
Huffing and puffing had gotten us nowhere.
The carnival pulling into town and leaving again ten days later were the two highlights of every summer. Some years they didn’t even assemble their rides or games of chance. Carnies just paraded up and down our street, showing off their tattoos and telling stories of all the places they’d visited. That’s how I remember them, mostly. My mother, I also recall, locked all of our house’s windows and doors. Because you can never be too safe.
Locals still talk about that summer
a brown bear sauntered into town
for no other reason apparently
than to swat down the beehives
tucked under the eaves of every house.
That’s all anybody ever saw him do,
so that’s the tale we tell ourselves
over and over. Nobody recalls how
he made it to the roofs of two-story houses.
But he sure did. Much to the chagrin
of those bees. And he wasn’t there to dance.
Folks regret they missed their chance
to say, “Thank you.” or “Goodbye.”
Because the bear quietly disappeared
again as soon as his work was done.
Back into the woods, most suppose.
But I like to think he made his way
to some other town that needed him.
Front page image by H Matthew Howarth.