The Bear, Barish and Me

We pad out
twice daily,
us three.
The Bear, Barish and me.
In morning’s shade
and evening’s dust.
I don’t need a watch
I’m found
my legs wound around
when it’s time.
Until I heed,
until they know I’ve fetched the lead
they nuzzle snap and slaver
with nothing but affection.
At cross roads they know
there is a choice of routes, and dither.
The Bear sighs
but, in jubilant youth,
Barish bounces likes a spring
until we decide our direction
There are leaps into irrigation ditches
and frantic fits of tail
as we take sniffed trails to nowhere
through other people’s fields.
The Bear pretends he’s too old for that
but he’s not,
he loves it,
just gets the hump when he runs out of puff.
And when he does, Barish knows
and goes for his nose
in playfulness, yet to have learned else.
At the crest of the track, tongues flap.
Not just theirs.
Our trio turns on its heels,
sweated backs to the sierra.
Below rolls out pueblos,
plains and their turbines,
the pits and abandoned buildings
of the open cast mines.
We sit in silence
or at least I do, and they take my lead
for a few moments
their restless shuffles and jumps cease.
Not for long though, and soon we carry on down
back to La Balsa.
I’m fixed with wide sad eyes,
until food is produced,
and then battle, with bristles
and beady bobbing cluckers begins.
The Bear gives no ground as they peck the gravel
and cast wide circles around him.
A low throaty rumble
becomes a growl and bared teeth
before his bellow
if their sinewy feet trespass too close.
When he roars, they run
and from feather fat gullets
their annoyance is crowed,
and, in defeat, Barish is approached.
He whistles and whimpers in bamboozlement
then, with no conviction at all, goes for a throat
and is met with beak and slapped by wing.
I get the doleful stare until
I introduce the broom to defend his dinner
for such time until he finds distraction
in dragon flies and passing felines.
Finally, both full and exercised,
as the proverb demands,
they sleep and are left to lie.


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