Susan L Leary Coral Gables (Clayre Benzadón)
Dressing the Bear
This time, we give the body shoes. The body of a bear
my brother is building at a factory in the mall to give
to the girl he’s loved since the sixth grade. I’m there to pay
for the bear & to speak of none of it, which is fine
because I’m good at hiding the ways my brother has wanted.
This time is different. At each station, my brother stuffs
only the good parts of himself inside the slack fur.
He gives the bear perfumed bones & shiny gold laces
& breathes so as not to snap them. He considers what the girl
wants & I consider his face as he forgets he has one,
as if in loving the girl & loving her limb by clothed limb,
for once, my brother can love himself. Probably,
that bear is in a Florida landfill, barefoot & decapitated,
its floral button-down shirt torn & full of crawfish stains.
But the girl arrives at my brother’s service in a blue & pink
striped dress, a burst skeleton of human sky—& I remember
the air as we exited the mall that day, the reddest bomb
of a fist before us. Then my brother, with insight delicate
enough not to wreck the evening: It’s harder to catch
the sunrise, he says. You have to really want it.
Title poem of the forthcoming collection with Trio House Press. Originally published in Up the Staircase Quarterly