September 10, 2021

Bill Glose

SASQUATCH

Just picture him, eight feet tall, all hair and muscle, 
able to uncork a head from its body in one swift pop,
yet sly enough to hide whenever humans are near.

A vegetarian, perhaps, like the rhinoceros, 
which explains no carcasses found in his wake, 
no gnawed bones left behind as clue. The only proof 

is blurry footage, statements from eye witnesses 
branded as fools, and footprints 
large enough to swallow the moon.

Rachel and I once spent the night in a Bigfoot-hunter’s cabin 
on the border between Virginia and her un-seceded sister.
Our host led us into woods to camouflaged, 

motion-sensor cameras strapped to trees. We wore
thermal-vision headsets as he marched to and fro
in the distance, his red form glowing amid the green.

Inside, he showed off an ultrasonic airborne probe 
and other high-tech wonders, sheaves of data, 
and finally—best for last—plaster molds of feet. 

Leaning posture, wrinkled brow, urgency of voice—
all broadcast the need for us to believe his story.
Twenty years before, he saw the creature in these woods 

and has been chasing after ever since. 
Surely on cold winter nights, after another 
fruitless hunt, his logical mind must wonder 

if that glimpse had been a trickster’s hoax
and the past two decades a waste of time.
You’ve got to have faith, he crows 

from that perch no argument can knock down.
And what is there to say when a fawn proclaims 
it’s not a deer but a leopard? Just look at my spots.

I’m a hawk, says the robin. I’m a constellation
says the bear. I’m alive, say the dead, scratching
at their caskets’ pillowed linings. Once,

at a wedding in a cavernous, Catholic church, 
Rachel exalted at stained-glass windows, hymnals
with gilt-limned pages, tapestries that hung for miles. 

But all I saw were the pew’s hard backs,
the tithing envelopes, Jesus on the cross, 
his weeping eyes imploring me to run. 

Knowing how far I’d fallen, she was pleased 
I remembered the proper words, the call and response 
of praise, its rhythm worn into my knees.

What is faith but knowing something to be true 
when evidence tells you it is not? I’ve always turned
to science for illumination; Rachel turns her face

to the sky. It’s why, in our cabin room,
when I picked apart points of the Bigfoot myth,
she punched my shoulder and said, Shut up.

Just enjoy the moment. Next morning, as the hunter 
turned pages in a photo album, one wooded spot 
after another where sitings supposedly occurred, 

and Rachel danced sockless beside a white plaster mold, 
her red-toenailed feet like a toddler’s in comparison, 
I yanked the leash of the dog growling in my throat 

and felt warmer in the silence. 
Sometimes an answer only comes
when you don’t know the question.

from Rattle #72, Summer 2021

__________

Bill Glose: “After serving in combat in the Middle East, I returned home with a lot of guilt and anger bottled up inside. Poetry provided catharsis, allowing me to explore my feelings and try making sense of the world’s senselessness without needing to rip someone’s head off. When my girlfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer, poetry gave me a haven to reveal my inner thoughts and fears during the dread-filled months that followed.” (web)

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