Mother Killer

Mother Killer
Leona Sevick

Last night I dreamed you were a small black bear
come to me from an
unknown place. No one

else recognized it was you, but I would
know the deep set of
your round bright eyes

anywhere, no matter that your bear’s eyes
were brown, not blue. You
held me tight with your

thick bear arms, right around the middle
where you used to hold me
when you were small.

You took my hand in your paw to show me
what you’d like to eat,
bright things in crinkly papers,

and I said no as gently as I could.
You eat this apple
that I’ve quartered, or

this peach. After wiping your maw I said
let’s play nicely with
these boys and girls. No

kicking or biting, bear. Be nice. Next I
showed you how to write
your name in big

broad letters, and you wrote them clearly
so the others could
read them without my

help. We did these things again and again
until you grew tired
and rubbed your eyes. I

put you to bed, stroking your ear until
you closed your eyes and
your mouth fell open,

exposing crooked rows of sharp white teeth.
They told me I was
crazy, whispered lies

about my little bear. He will not hurt
anyone, I said,
almost believing

it myself. Studying your long thick claws
I thought maybe I’d
just chew them down while

you sleep, little bear,
just as I did when you were a baby
and had fingernails

like paper. When I closed my eyes too long
our dream was over.
I missed you, wanted

you close enough to wrap my human arms
and legs around
your wild limbs so tight

you would settle into this stillness
that would have been your whole
world had you let it.

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