The Bear at the Dump
Amidst the too much that we buy and throw away and the far too much we wrap it in, the bear found a few items of special interest--a honeydew rind, a used tampon, the bone from a leg of lamb. He'd rock back lightly onto his rear paws and slash open a plastic bag, and then his nose-- jammed almost with a surfeit of rank and likely information, for he would pause-- and then his whole dowsing snout would insinuate itself a little way inside. By now he'd have hunched his weight forward slightly, and then he'd snatch it back, trailed by some tidbit in his teeth. He'd look around. What a good boy am he. The guardian of the dump was used to this and not amused. "He'll drag that shit every which damn way," he grumbled who'd dozed and scraped a pit to keep that shit where the town paid to contain it. The others of us looked and looked. "City folks like you don't get to see this often," one year-round resident accused me. Some winter I'll bring him down to learn to love a rat working a length of subway track. "Nope," I replied. Just then the bear decamped for the woods with a marl of grease and slather in his mouth and on his snout, picking up speed, not cute (nor had he been cute before, slavering with greed, his weight all sunk to his seated rump and his nose stuck up to sift the rich and fetid air, shaped like a huge, furry pear), but richly fed on the slow-simmering dump, and gone into the bug-thick woods and anecdote.
From Search Party: Collected Poems of William Matthews, edited by Sebastian Matthews and Stanley Plumly. Copyright © 1995 by William Matthews. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.