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My father’s favorite postcard
depicts a bear in the woods
sitting on a toilet,
reading a newspaper.

A concrete image
of that rhetorical question:

Does a bear shit in the woods?

All he wants for Christmas
is as many of these postcards
as I can find. “I’ve got a lot
of friends I’m going to send them to,”
he explains. This begs the question:
for what occasion is a card of a
defecating bear appropriate?

It does remind me of the time
when my father sent my great aunt
letters and postcards written by
an animal who lived in the woods.
(A squirrel? A bear? A chimpmunk?)
For months, he sent her these missives
from a mischievous woodland creature.

And as ridiculous as it sounds, neither
one of them would ever admit it was him.
It kept the conversation going at the
weekly Friday night fish fry. Pretending
to be a good Catholic until the end,
for her sake, the ever-so-slightly errant
nephew, the prankster, my father.

These postcards feel somewhat inadequate
as I stuff them into the padded envelope.
Growing up, he gave me Sherlock Holmes,
the adventures of Tintin and Asterix (en français!)
He put clothes on my back, food on my plate,
played countless games of mini-golf, paid for my college tuition–
and I am sending him a pile of novelty postcards in return.

“Katherine, if you don’t pull your head out of
your ass, someday you’ll get run over by a car.”
I look both ways before crossing the post office lot.
And for a moment, my father is once again with me,
holding my hand: a bear and his cub.

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