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 Press, Silver Birch Press, Cooch Behar Books, Blue Heron Review, kontinuum kortars haiku, Blue Pepper, Burrow, Pret a Porter, Local Lyric, & the specifically tanka journals of Eucalypt & Moon-bathing.