The Bear

by Elizabeth Tibbetts

It’s    a hot May day at the graveyard:
enough breeze to keep black flies away,
leaves sunning their green naked selves,
an unseen brook’s no beginning /no end,
and the dead shelved beneath the mown lawn.

My mother, her cane in one hand and a pot
of marigolds for her brother in the other,
wanders back through family names. I see
clearer than ever the neat lines of bones
all the careful suits, shoes, and dresses now gone.

All around us common purple lilacs bloom.
She sets the flowers on the ground, straightens
her back and my uncle’s flag. Bear tracks
engrave the earth by his stone. The bird feeder
is gone. He must have ambled in beneath

a spoonful of moonlight, stood upright
as a man in his black, shaggy coat, grabbed
the feeder between his clawed paws, and shook
the gritty seed as though it were sugar
into his comingintosummerhungry mouth.