A silent shot from the shrubbery, blur of black fur,
its stunning speed inbound snuffs out the sun
behind it, the deserted forest path witness
to one of many ways a walk on the spur can end:
a sloth-bear this page can’t ever hope to hold.
The foreign body slants hard into your space—
a starless, smothering blanket of beastly odour.
Pinned down, your mind sifts and sifts through
the shock swiftly, recalling the ranger’s warning:
it always goes for your face, cover it with your hands,
curve your body into a C, and be still;
and let your spine answer the swat, swipe, slash,
and smite—reassembling bone, brawn, blood.
The world drifts in and out till your nebulous eyes
spy a shape slink away to the fringe, and the sun
bounds back in like another surprise, your howls
mauling the silence till sirens, lights, and pallbearers
arrive to haul away what’s left of you to fix.