For five dollars, you can go
out back, behind the white
cinderblock shack at the corner
of Market and Baltimore Roads.
The tiny, windowless cube
of a building with a giant
red and blue parrot painted
onits side, promising much
more exotic things
than can be found there. you
can go and see him, see
his shabby fur, his
feet the sixe of your torso,
smell the msuck and oil
when he dances
from one foot to the other, you feel
the earth shake and know
what it was to feel true fear.
Rooted to your spot
just out of the screen door
you watch him raise his massive form
to twirl like the most graceful ballerina.
He starts as a heap of muscle
and fur. You can see him from
the two car gravel parking lot,
he lies out in the sun, and you see
that he is a mountain behind the store.
All the same, every time you get your allowance,
you gather your friends and bring them all here
to command the mountain to rise and dance.
I needn’t do that. There were
pleanty of others who bought waltzes,
commissioned soft shoe tap dances,
and the bear rose high above the building,
his virtuosity was evident
from my own yard. But I wanted
the thirty-foot bear to dance only for me.
How cruel was I,
when I think of it now,
using my five dollars
to force my will
upon another being.
When he died, they saved what could be saved, selling
claws and teeth and scraps of fur from the last
surviving thirty-foot bear. They ran a headline.
Thirty-Foot Bear Chokes on his own Chain
and I know this was not an accidental death.
My dear bear was too gracefl, to sure of his movements
to ever go that way. He died because he thought he
was the last and this was no life for him, because
he never looked up while he danced to see me.