The Stunt Bear, the Bell Tree

Winter, 2012–2013 / No. 29

The landscape is loaded. Cluttered with bats and beer halls—

bats wrapped so the hands don’t slip while swinging.

Beer halls—darts and pool. She lifts a mirror to her face,

stares into her deep blue pools. Street lights are pale moons,

street moons. The air perfectly natural, naturally candid.

There are intervals of dark not even sun can interrupt.

Clouds—narrow, white as femurs—flowing over the city.

The second hand keeps ticking away; the first, mute as meal.

Someone’s rocking the barcarole, disrupting the dreamy dream.

Bathers, waiting for something to happen, look so glum

they could be shot. Many have fallen this way.

Many more have acted maniacally happy to save their lives—

only to end them later because they’d survived.

Find her while there’s time—before the exits

shift. The stunt bear with the bell tree is exposing his tinny teeth,

the engine of his body chugging up. Rage rising, bells

revelling, inner fire bright.

Anyone who’s broken down knows how savage health can be.

Elana Wolff is a writer, editor, translator, and designer and facilitator of social art courses. Her latest poetry collection, Swoon, won the 2020 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for poetry. She has contributed to the magazine since 2000. Last updated winter, 2020–2021.