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The bear is in no hurry

as he moves toward you.

He does not turn away.

Though you yell. Though

you wave your arms above

your head. Though

you plant your legs wide.

He just ambles up the steep

dirt road and focuses on you.

 

At first, it’s not unnerving.

You’ve seen bears before.

But this bear is interested.

This bear keeps you near.

You walk backwards up the hill.

The bear matches your pace.

You lose sight around the curve.

A few steps later, it’s still there.

 

You shout until your voice is hoarse.

The bear is undeterred.

The moment loves and hates itself.

You think it could be worse.

You think it could be better.

You shout and wave and walk.

 

It is only later, after the man

in the old black pickup truck

has rescued you

that you let yourself wonder

how else the story could bend.

And your heart emerges,

something big and wild,

surprising you with its ferocity,

its unswerving strides.

 

 

 

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Ursa Major

 

 

 

Like the bear in the darkness

scavenging the campground

for chocolate bars,

I, too, long for sweetness.

It keeps me awake,

my hunger. I lumber

through these summer nights,

hunting, my senses alive.

Don’t let morning come soon.

I swear there’s a hint

of sweetness here somewhere.

 

 

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After Waking

Beneath our boat

a swimming bear—

I tell myself to be afraid

but I’m too delighted

by its brown body,

elongated and sleek

moving like a wave itself

in the clear, clear water.

A marriage, too,

is a boat. Or is it

the bear?

Or is it the man

and the woman

in the boat,

watching beneath them

the most exquisite

dangerous thing,

something that could kill them

but chooses instead

grace.

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