by William Doreski
Bears, four times two, stomp and swing
to music strung on a bell curve.
Their rough pelts shiver and ripple
with breezy corrugations. Their snouts
whiff the melodious air. They switch
partners round after round, tireless
in their simple bulky pleasure.
I operate their phonograph,
an antique wind-up Edison
my ex-brother-in-law collected
from a shop on Columbus Ave
in Boston’s bow-front South End.
I tote it deep into the woods
every summer to amuse the bears.
Although I’ve never learned to rumba
I’m glad to see creatures so adept,
their sense of rhythm powerful
as pistons in a diesel truck.
Even the cubs pair off and trot
around the clearing, clumsier
than their more practiced elders
but emitting affectionate groans.
The bears appreciate the music
and reward me with maggots and bugs.
I eat with much feigned gusto,
unwilling to insult my bear-hosts
by refusing their offers of grub.
The afternoon wanes. I replace
the thick one-sided recordings
in their brown paper sleeves,
shake paws with the bears and leave
them grinning, their long brisk claws
shining as they wave goodbye.