by jennifer boyden
David sober says to feed the bear
who’s eating the birdseed in our front yard.
Says we must, for him, feed it so we’ll earn a badge
under the god he’s wearing lately. God with eyes.
God who sleeps a lot when David needs him most,
and whose waking patience is thin
as the bear’s winter cells. This God of tallying
and disappearances is called upon by David most
in the time of morning vapor when it’s hardest
for David sober to believe: whole day stretched
in front of him like paint thinner, each cup a cup
which is to be used for coffee only. Feed the bear,
David says sober though alone at his end of the hour
when god might wake for him. David says
it would go well for all of us if we pour milk over bread,
honey over meat, and then carry out the bowl.
But lock the door when you’re done, David says
sober, because the source is always sweeter
than the meal. He says the bear’s salvation will be heard,
and might speak for him at the end of his need.
And with what sweetness on the tongue
will it urge the god of that single cup awake?
And with what honeyed breath will it seek
us out again, small gods terrified of the asking?
“David on the Phone” was first published in The Declarable Future, © 2013, by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. Reprinted by permission of The University of Wisconsin Press.