Living Like Lions and Bears

This story is paired with Chapter 6 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

Mother Bear gave me food from her cache.
I did not complain though it was mostly skin
and bone. I sat down beside the road,
gnawed gristle off the ends.
I cracked the middle with a rock
to get at the soft pink marrow
while the flies buzzed
and the vultures circled overhead.
Eating like a predator means
someone is always watching.

I saw a lion chasing a dog, two ghosts
running between the empty houses.
Long red-brown dog fur in a lion cut,
black tongue hanging out,
tawny lion far from home with red mane and black lips:
real hunting false, lion chasing lion.
People had groomed and petted that dog,
let it out to be lion food.
Perhaps they had stepped outside unwary,
not knowing how the world had changed,
and been eaten. Perhaps they had run away.

I eyed Father Bear down the slope.
Sleepy, he ignored me. It was safe.
I walked a wide circle round
nonetheless, to get behind Mother Bear.
A man stopped in a car sleek and gray as a shark,
rolled down the tinted window, asked if I needed a ride.
He wore a gray suit, and I could smell
his aftershave, see the gleam of sweat
starting on his skin. I stared and said nothing.
He gripped the steering wheel,
looked at the lion and the bears, looked
at my ragged pinafore and dirty feet.
He said, “Little girl, it’s dangerous out here.”
I growled until he hid himself again.
Mother charged the blank dark eye and he sped away.
Things have changed.

NBR3-01AmisSara Amis won the 2007 Mangrove Review award for creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Magpie Magazine, The Flagpole, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Jabberwocky 3 and 5, Datura, Moon Milk Review, Luna Station Quarterly and the feminist speculative poetry anthology The Moment of Change. Her poem series “The Sophia Leaves Text Messages” was published by Papaveria Press September 2009, and she has an experimental poetry project on titled “The Traveling Bobcat Poetry Show.” She is a regular columnist for Luna Station Quarterly and, and likes to wander from genre to genre with blithe abandon.