Two Bears

Erina Booker
I open the cupboard door and
a reflexive smile widens my lips –
I can’t help it –
there are two little bears on a
shelf at eye-height
smiling back at me

my sister and I owned them
from early childhood when
our dad brought them back
from the Persian Gulf as
presents, and though it was
one each, they’ve always been 
twinned, no singular names
just: ‘Bahrain Bears’

my sister, my all-but twin
died at 20 and the two bears were 
plainly mine, accompanying me for
many decades, through house moves,
living OS, children, grandchildren, to
sitting comfortably on a bookshelf
in my bedroom

it’s magical, they’re here as they
were always meant to be
the most I can do for them is put
naphthalene on their shelf to keep 
moths away, though age 
reveals itself in a torn lip and
dwindling fur, nearly as old as I
but enduring uncompromised

I find dad, after years of rupture,
in a nursing home dying of  
Alzheimer’s and starvation
I spoon food into his mouth…

But I’m ahead of myself now,
first I needed him to know me:
how on earth will I do this?
just a second later – with
Bahrain Bears of course… 
into a bag they went
with a few family photos

“You’re not Erina” he said, “Erina
was…” “But”, I cut in, “I’ve got
Bahrain Bears” and pulled their
furry forms from the bag like a conjurer, 
with not a moment’s hesitation he said
“Then you must be Erina!”
The power of those bears…

their paw prints had padded their
way from early childhood to now
being the matriarch of our meagre
family, strewn about the country
and the globe, and they had seared
themselves into his stricken brain
for all time also

these bears you brought to us
as father to daughters
I now bring to you - 
a reminder of yourself
your love for us
clasped tightly
with a plane ticket home.

Erina Booker is an Australian poet, based in Sydney. She has published nine collections of poetry, contributes to journals, gives recitals, presents seminars, & judges competitions. She contributes ekphrastic poems to art galleries, works with artists & craftspeople, & supports poetry within her local community She has been published in international journals & anthologies. Her publishers include: The Ithaca Grapevine, Vita Brevis PressSilver Birch PressCooch Behar Books, Blue Heron Review, kontinuum kortars haikuBlue PepperBurrow, Pret a Porter, Local Lyric, & the specifically tanka journals of Eucalypt & Moon-bathing.



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