Sitting Shiva

If you find the bones of a bear, sit down and stay with them.
The dead desire our company. Touch each one—scapula,
tibia, ulna—even the tiniest bones of the hind and forefeet,
the curve of every claw. Just out of sight, a thrush will sing.
Bird song is a way to speak in secret. Find comfort
in the arbutus that whitens each March on the old logging road.
Wait until dark. A full moon will rise from the bear’s skull,
showing what she thought of us. Hold the moon-skull in your lap,

stroke the cranial ridges. You may see your dead father
scaling the talus to the blueberry field where this bear ate,
mouth sated and purpled by the sweetest fruit. Your mother
will be in the room on the second floor of the house, packing
and then unpacking a box of your father’s clothes. It’s hard
to give up this life. But we must. Others are waiting behind us.