We Can Sing Songs of Bears Upon the Death of a Wife

for Wisconsin friends, Kelly & Fishbone (RIP)

If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life.

— Pablo Neruda, One Hundred Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor

Bear hunting | | Wisconsin DNR

they are séancing to the sap
trees turning inside, holding, fixing
life in the fallow, the fall retreat
into the Winter of contentment
hibernation is another way toward
second birth, as Kelly and Fishbone
seek memories through toughed
old man, solo now, he holds her voice
until winds of spring pull him
toward lamentation, a rising
heat of summer, life, dandelions
cooked for healing, dragonflies
barely on the horizon
when was the last firefly
Kelly and Fishbone shared
bears and scat, maybe a lobo
deep in Wisconsin territory?

he’s not alone, though she
has moved interstellar like
a poof of air, spirit so light
yet our universe is created by elemental
mixtures of carbon and love
oh how they shared life, even while
her dusk was tethered to chemo
contentment in small things
as her pick-up truck was repaired
a chance to see the country beyond

Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Forest County Potawatomi, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior, Brothertown Nation

I met them through ether gestures, old saws
my rants against systems but also rants for humanity
a humane and just world, so Kelly latched on
and we have become one, in that pairing
crazy 21st Century rendezvous, digital age
alas, not a fan, but a friend, and this is so
as word comes her fight ended
in the gravity sea of Earth
a couple is never a singular equation
once man and woman bond
break lamentation into vows
through that health and happiness.
through the hard scrabble of life
through sickness and death
I see them both in birch bark
lines black and white, the curl
just right, so many imagined
shapes in the bark peeling
falling, weathering seasons
until a poem arises for friends

Paul Haeder's been a teacher, social worker, newspaperman, environmental activist, and marginalized muckraker, union organizer. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 17 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read (purchase) his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Here's his Amazon page with more published work Amazon. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.