Once he wrestled a bear, he said,
in a bar off-campus with eyes
glossy from lager, he wrestled
a bear. Claws and all, black fur
and the salmon of its muscles
leaping under the black fur.
Wrestled and won, he said,
the bear pinned and snorting,
pinned and one hundred pounds
heavier, with claws, with claws
and teeth, the electric blue current
of animal instinct. I was gullible
once, under kindergarten lights
with glitter and paste, building
a galaxy. A boy stole my stars
once, a bigger boy I wrestled
under the night of blackboard.
Wrestled and lost, pinned
and weeping with my back
to the carpet, with the fireflies
of glitter dazzling on my skin.
To the man who said he wrestled
a bear, wrestled and won, I said,
You're full of bear shit. But
a scar is proof and so began
the slow striptease of a pant leg
rolled to his knee. There, he said.
And his story sparkled on his flesh.
Copyright © 2006 by Gulf Coast.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.