The bear my dad eventually shot after years of hunting bear

Kristofor Minta

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.