When a bear bleeds, run. - Chantal Vallis

I remember

your eyes

huge and wide

when you

laughed

like you

wanted

to see

more joy,

your face

opening up

like a book.


I was always

swept up

by your hands

telling stories,

your unmistakable

pinky and thumb

switching back

and forth,

saluting the

waves in conversation

the way you’d greet

friends

at the ocean.


I’d get lost

in your starry night,

the beauty marks

your gran wanted

to surgically remove,

but you refused.

Where others

saw moles

you saw

the milky way.

That’s when

I fell

into the

unknown,

into the deepest

parts of you.


I must've spent hours listening

to a lifetime

of stories and

tracing the tattoos

on your arm.

A lantern

to light the way.

Flowers

to honour those

you love.

But the bear,

the bear bled out.

It always bothered me

that you weren’t

concerned

by the death of him.

That you… let it go.

Was it a red flag?

A bad omen?

My gut told me

Run. Leave! Quick -

before she does.

Last night,

I found myself

rubbing

one foot

with the other

to drift off to sleep.

The sheet softly

wrestling

as if you’re

still with me.

Chantal Vallis is a Kitchener, Ontario based poet and writer who has completed creative writing and literature courses at the University of Waterloo and Queen’s University. Her work has appeared at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival and in the anthology Out Proud: Stories of Pride, Courage, and Social Justice.

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