my bear skin is stretched over a frame,
in places poked and prodded
where my bones have reached for the sunlight
and in reaching found each other
and held hands forever under my shrug

my bear skin gives and takes my shape:
fattened and plumped like a pillow or a seal,
soft-bodied, warm-blooded
and depending where my fingers trail
smooth or rough; pliable, tough

my bear skin is fuzzy in patches
not that darling peach fluff in cheap erotica
but near-black and wiry and
stretching, fading, down my legs
a sprawling damask on bluish canvas

my bear skin doesn’t make me strong
but it has taught me bravery, trial by fire
and some days still I am all too aware
of the courage I wield, high over my head,
every moment I allow it to exist

but when I can bear it, when I choose to bear
the weight of your gaze and the wait while you stare
I try and remember the judgement’s on you
the person you are, the things that you do
and sometimes you’re cruel but I love when you’re good
and this ‘ole bear skin is mine, understood?