The Monster, What Some Thought a Man

or bear, came from the swamp,
what had once been a lake from a glacier,
then the meandering bed of a river, softer
than any bed a man had ever made.
The river had been dammed,
slowing, filling to prevent a drought
in a place where clay prevents rain
from becoming groundwater.
Instead the water runs away.
The mine had been closed in strike,
and the water seeped in
the ceiling of slate.
In time, they mined again, even under the lake.

A child ran in his house to say
the white ghost was in the yard,
and no one believed him until the neighbors
saw it, too. The stories started this way
on the edge of the orchards,
acres of apples:
summer, seven feet tall,
heavy in white fur and mud,
what our mothers said you could smell
before you saw it, or sometimes only
could smell, never see,
but you would know it was near. How it screamed.
How it didn’t seem to care.

Copyright © 2018 Angie Macri. Reprinted with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Autumn 2018.