THE LONG ANSWER
Today I woke up with
the tremendously exact feeling
the salmon are running from something.
I suggest we call the current
the future because it’s already up there
with the fish. I have been running
from things. I have called it life.
Very early on someone said
Grab the bull by the horns,
but I heard Grab the bullhorn.
I misunderstood the instructions.
Today a bear followed the trail
by the river. Hello, grizzly bear!
You have a great name but
get a bad name for all the terror
and the tearing apart. When I write
the article on the incident, I will say
“The adorable little girl was mauled”
“The bear mauled the little girl.”
That is all I can do for you.
You were very gentle with the salmon.
You did not at first bite down.
The way to my heart is through
my chest cavity, so you can stop
with all the flattery, is a truth
the bear knows well and is thus
another reason to love him,
though the list of reasons not to
is far longer and awfully serious.
Can you remind me why we
named the best hugs after you?
Today I cannot look
Matilda’s teddy bear in the eye
like how we cannot look strangers in the eye
when they exit the bathroom
and we are next in line because
what awaits us in dark rooms: it is scary.
What awaits us in dark futures or dark currents?
Matilda, I say, there are no monsters
beneath your bed, but there are several
million outside instead and they will
tear us apart in the most real and unimagined ways.
Will you protect me, though, says Matilda,
from the never-ending onslaught of evil
and menace that is this faithless society?
for I require the generous and immediate reassurance
of an accountable adult. The short answer
is No, I say, but the long answer: it is Yes.