A word peeked sometimes from the cave mouth
only to shuffle back, swallowed, sky-shy,
lost in his memory’s russet Lascaux.
The great-granddaughter we set on his lap
played in the far-off, sunlit opening
of a tunnel ninety-one years long,
as noiseless, in spite of the hearing aid,
as a penny striking the floor of a well.
His eyes met ours like a groggy bear’s
as he pulled another stone into place
to seal the entrance to himself, to close
the senses that would not close themselves.
When I say my grandfather passed on
last year, what I mean is, he passed inward,
down the dark slope of a cave, drawn
by the womb rush of a river underground.

A Message from the Editors

As a reader of our efforts, you have stood with us on the front lines in the battle for culture. Learn how your support contributes to our continued defense of truth.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 35 Number 7, on page 28
Copyright © 2021 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
https://newcriterion.com/issues/2017/3/the-bear