It couldn’t have been the dead of winter
when the bear broke the window,
found her way
to the kitchen and sat in the dark
with food mounded around her, kneading
_ _ her claws into the counter
with the pleasure of it all.
Bears den in winter,
even though I picture January air
_ _ slipping in behind her like a new cub.
It must have been autumn when the pane cracked
in the early morning.
After, she knew too much.
Boxes plucked from cabinets, ripe
tomatoes from the shelf.
_ _ She came back
often, pressing her nose against the plywood
nailed where the glass had been.
_ _ They heard her outside,
_ _saw the board flex
_ _with the weight of her skull.
Then one day after mopping
and before splitting wood,
_ _ they killed her,
_ _ knowing
she would always be there
on the other side
of the wall,
asking to come back inside.
Alice Pettway is the author of three books of poetry: The Time of Hunger (2017), Moth (2019), and Station Lights (forthcoming 2021), all from Salmon Poetry. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, AGNI, Poet Lore, The Southern Review, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. She lives and writes in Shanghai. (updated 4/2020)