The Bear's Claw

Laura Stott

You're downtown in an unnamed city. If you step out of your body 
and look around, you can see it, the bear,

next to the creek that winds through a shopping mall, 
trout swimming above the glitter of nickels and pennies. 

Wishes from pockets and purses, gifts for gods. 
There's the bear, fishing one out, a trout. He's ripping it apart 

on the concrete. World peace, a daughter 
to come home, a cruise in the Caribbean, 

I wish she would say Yes.  
Once, in the middle of the night, 

the bear was on the lawn. Alaska. 
I was up with a restless baby only calmed  

by cold air. It was starting 
to get light, but it was only 2am. 

The kind of light only the north brings
and mist from the ocean. I sang that hymn, 

a lullaby, and she fell asleep against my body, 
my back to the house, my face to the bear, 

trying to see it in the growing dream, 
slowly taking shape in the dying night.  

Which foot to put in front of the other, 
which threshold to turn to, the door left open  

behind me. The wild lapping 
against the shore in front. 

A child sleeping heavy against my heart.