Next to Chilly Billy’s Frozen Yogurt a black bear snuffles
a trash can outside an empty shopping mall.
Out of her nine-inch snout she blows wet
breath, grunts, clacks her jaws & flaps
her bushy head. She’s unfamiliar with these phantom
smells—scent of weeks-old chicken cacciatore caked
on the fake stone facade at Applebees, gummy
residue of root beer at the bottom
of a flattened A & W can.
Scene 2: Close-up
I stare at her bulky waddle for 30 seconds. Wind
rattles shopping mall windows.
Pan to Highway 53: Show thoroughfare with no traffic
& a sign that gives directions to free Covid testing.
Narrator speaks: Did you know bears have the keenest
nose in the mammal world? They can sniff out
a beehive 18-miles away. Today the 500-pound
bear discovers a culinary world beyond yellow
jackets, acorns, buds & shoots.
I name the bear Ursula.
I examine her lumbering moves, take notes.
Scene 3: Narrator continues
Today, Ursula scavenges even for unfoodlike
items – hints of avocado soap beckon. She chugs coconut
shampoo & gulps from a broken bottle of Chanel.
45 seconds of Ursula sniffing, licking the bottom of a perfume
canister with a sharded rim. Voiceover of a folk singer.
take care. Be cautious
of what we have left behind.
Oh Ursula, take care. Ursula,