It wasn’t a small bear, but it wasn’t
a big bear. By now, it surely would
have gone to oblivion in some hollow
somewhere anyhow. Its paws were twice
the size of a man’s hand and it filled
the truck bed laid diagonal, which satisfied, or
must have, because he said “it filled
the truck bed” many times in my
hearing, many times past the point
of my being one of his audience.
It was a black bear; he had it made
into a rug. The mouth looked ready.
It glistened. But the tongue was rubber
and hollow. It came out. I got to looking
and there wasn’t much bear left
in that rug. It hung on the wall for ages,
shedding, and when the hair was gone,
my dad owned a bear-shaped piece
of leather, which finally he had made
into mittens for my kids. They liked them,
their schoolmates wanted some, too,
which pleased my dad; there was no way
he was going to let the bear win.