And I return to the bear, claw marks
and scratches on the tree, was it oak or pine,
where the tinker chained his pet
while he went from house to house
hawking knifes and patching pans.
A story told to my father by his grandmother
as they planted seeds in a small bucket,
in forty years a fruit tree big enough
to fill a barrel, the story of the bear
growing in my mind.
There was a whorehouse
turned hotel that burned down.
The willowy son of the town madame
taught me how to waltz there.
The bear long gone, its manacles
for horseshoes. You’re right,
I write about white people
as if I wasn’t one of them.
And the orange tree my father planted,
the stories he was told that I was told
to take down—why should anyone care?