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From the 1970s through the 1990s, a black bear named Samantha lived in a cage in front of Thirsty’s gas station in Cadillac, Michigan.

When all you’ve known is a small space,

tourist ice cream cones slipped between

chain links, is there any room for longing?

After the campers and fishermen packed up,

you were the only captive bear in the world

who slept all winter. What matters here?

Our shared name, shared birthplace,

forgotten meeting. I imagine your escape:

lost for what to do, where to go, chased

up a tree, coming back down tranquilized.

When disaster looms, my dad will say

keep the car gassed up, get ready to head north.

I promise not to return, not for a million dollars.

Sam, I’m writing to you from five hundred fifty-five miles

and thirty years away.