My head is stuck! I am stuck inside my head like a lunatic or a poet!
I cannot see through my unblinking eyes. This face cannot stop smiling,
as the words of my ninety-year-old mother roll around in my head:
Anyone who smiles all the time is an idiot. I listen to myself breathing,
like an obscene phone call from the days when people would say
Hello? Hello? Who is this? in the movies. My armpits are drooling.
But they love me. They love me when I fire my cannon of plush baseballs
into the crowd. They love me when I dance on the dugout in my floppy shoes,
inches from slipping into the well of darkness. They love me when they see
my statue at the gates of the ballpark, arms stuck straight out like a crucified
polar bear in a red cap. They love me more if the team wins. They love me
more with every beer. The teenagers love me when they flick my snout to see
if I’ll bite. The toddlers love me when they shriek in my face, thinking I’m real.
At the end of the game, my head is still stuck in my head. My zipper dangles,
derailed in the seventh inning, a little train skidding off the track on my belly.
I fold the chairs and tables in the ticket office, still stuffed in my polar bear
mascot costume, drenched as if I pumped my arms and legs to score
the winning run in the last of the ninth, the reverie of mascots everywhere.
I see you in the window, through the hole in my smiling mouth, and you see me,
and I know you love me. You love me because you love the polar bears drifting
on chunks of ice far from all the other bears. You love me because you love
the polar bears who see the ice melting in a cup of beer and think of home.
You love me because you love the polar bears stuck in their own heads
like lunatics or poets. You love me because you love the polar bears
who write poems but will never understand the train wreck of a zipper.
You love me because you love the polar bears who stink, eager to nuzzle
my armpit and tell me how the musk of my costume intoxicates you.
You love me, so I will be a better bear. Tomorrow, I will go to the deck
with the swivel seats and find the drunk who yells at the shortstop all day,
telling him to swim back to the island he came from so many times even
the drunk’s mother says Shut up, Tommy, and fire my cannon of plush baseballs
off Tommy the drunk’s chest, crushing his big cup so the beer spurts into
the air and showers his head like the urine of God, then rendezvous with you
under my statue, where you unscrew my head at last and I can sing this song.