The Thing About Bears

by Troy Kody Cunio

with thanks to M.C. McGinn

so there was this bear 
who used to dig through my trash
for rotten strawberries and chocolate

I am all for conservation
not fucking things up for feral creatures just trying to make their way in the world 
creatures not so different from myself

but I am also a responsible homeowner

the only hairy mammal allowed to spread shit all over my front yard
is me goddammit

so one day I confronted him 
brandishing a rake like some kind of suburban Achilles

he growled and charged
and the hero in me evaporated
I curled into a ball like the Discovery Channel says to

he ate me

the thing about bears
is they only want to hug

all your insides out

they only want your insides
inside of theirs

there is nothing teddy or care
about a massive ursine body 
built of rage and hungry muscles

for a while I inhabited his skin
together we roared at everything

there were so many maulings
I can’t remember

one day he vomited me back out
leaving bite marks on me
where only I would think to look

you can take the boy out of a carnivore
but you can’t take the carnivore out of a boy

it is so much easier to be a bear
than to survive one

nowadays I grow flowers
where the bear used to be

tulips and daisies
dandelions and posies

no roses
nothing with thorns
nothing that won’t grow wild

I pluck one whenever my fists are claws
aching to break something

like drywall

or lovers
or other small fearful animals

I wear them in my hair

to remind me of bumblebees
and how they die when they sting

and how bumblebee puke 
becomes food for the bear

while he hibernates

I am making a garden of my insecurities

the bear will come back

he always comes back

the thing about bears

is they only want sweetness

but they have such sharp teeth

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