“Twilight” by Henri Cole
There’s a black bear
in the apple tree
and he won’t come down.
I can hear him panting,
like an athlete.
I can smell the stink
of his body.
Come down, black bear.
Can you hear me?
The mind is the most interesting thing to me;
like the sudden death of the sun,
it seems implausible that darkness will swallow it
or that anything is lost forever there,
like a black bear in a fruit tree,
gulping up sour apples
with dry sucking sounds,
or like us at the pier, somber and tired,
making food from sunlight,
you saying a word, me saying a word, trying hard,
though things were disintegrating.
Still, I wanted you,
your lips on my neck,
your postmodern sexuality.
Forlorn and anonymous:
I didn’t want to be that. I could hear
the great barking monsters of the lower waters
calling me forward.
You see, my mind takes me far,
but my heart dreams of return.
with pale-pink tongue
at the center of his face,
is turning his head,
like the face of Christ from life.
Shaking the apple boughs,
he is stronger than I am
and seems so free of passion—
no fear, no pain, no tenderness. I want to be that.
Come down, black bear,
I want to learn the faith of the indifferent.
- Henri Cole, “Twilight” from Blackbird and Wolf. Copyright © 2008 by Henri Cole. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, http://www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.
Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
Source: Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982-2007 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)