The bear with his wings.
Its wings. I swear it is an it.
I swear it has wings. This bear
takes off from the ground
next to the creek
where I see it not only preparing
to hibernate but also crouching,
drinking, lapping up its water
from the creek like a dog or a cat,
the water is flowing down and it’s crisp
and cold and I
am a lone hunter
with a rifle to my shoulder

and the wings stop and the wings stop
and the wings stop
the bear sees me it is a he now
the bears sees me and I see him
we see each other, this bear and I
his wings that were fluttering
stop moving
my wings that were fluttering
stop moving

the entire forest is still
I can see the drops of dew on the blue leaves
the sunlight breaks through the leaves
and it’s like white knives shooting down

the stillness
is its own knife,
cutting through
the forest

not a crack
not a broken twig
not one thing right now
not one thing speaks

after he stands up
from drinking water
the bear watches me
with my rifle up
on my shoulder

what does it mean
I think right then
to take another life

what does it mean

it means target practice
it means look at how I can decorate my wall
it means this is a thing
about which I have no ethics
it means my way of life
it means my way of life
matters more
than your life

I shoot.
The water it was preparing
to hold for months
within its body
flies everywhere
like a sudden rain shower
in the already
dampest part
of the forest

if I didn’t know better
if I weren’t thinking
so much of how its big head
will fit into my truck
and then onto my wall
over the mantle
if I hadn’t looked away
right then
to smile at what I’d destroyed
I would have said
the way the water
left its body
to return
back to the earth
was like the soul,
I imagine, leaving
through the eyes
of a mother or a father
or a brother or a sister
or a daughter or a son
or a love…

I suppose it should be
humbling to not only
witness but also to
cause the death
of another

but I tell you
what’s humbling
is standing
below its great
face, its head
fastened so securely
to the wall
above the fireplace
saying to my friends
I bested this thing
and knowing
even with its mouth
so much more
purposeful
than mine
on display
and open
and ready to fight
it can never
ever
talk back.