For the bear who broke my fence


in den

As you ready,
you trouble our leavings:
the forgotten feeder, the spilled seed.

Your hunger accretes
in the dark autumn air.
Urgent. Insatiable.

Hyperphagia, the scientists say.
You say eat. You say drink.
As you ready,

you dream cubs from
the world of spirit, from
the world of ancestors.
You dream their tiny bodies
blind and toothless, strange
to anyone but you, who might

cradle them all
with one careful paw.

As you ready, they wait.
They are not bear;  not yet.
They are pre-bear.
Blastocysts, the scientists say:
fertilized eggs, fewer than
a hundred cells. Barely embryos.

They wait, suspended.
Only if you grow fat enough —
only if you can sustain their lives —
will they anchor your womb,
will they begin to be bears.

So eat, and eat more. Drink.
Bid them begin,  as you ready:
all the bears that might be.

To you, they are already real.

Sleep into winter, then,
and dream cubs
into perfect flesh.
Keep them warm;
feed them well.

Make of them small wonders
who will meet the world
in spring, their nebulous
faces alive with amazement,
their new, uncertain bodies
tumbling into dappled air,

their rounded ears and soft muzzles
sensing the earth being born again.



Photos are from the North American Bear Center near Ely, Minnesota, a rich repository of research and information about these magnificent animals.





  1. Pat: willow88switches · · Reply

    I really like how you shifted into the heart beat of the bear – how you were able to offer us beyond the reasoning and rationale of why they forage, why they are so persistent and how it’s just more than survival; the voice and tone, of counterpane of “scientific” terms and the dream-spirit voice of Bear really plays well within this piece. It lifts it to a new height, dimension, while still keeping us one paw on the ground.


    1. “One paw on the ground” — love that! Thanks so much for the attention you paid to this piece, for listening to how it worked for you and sharing that with me. Your insights are helpful and appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this. It has a real and sweet essence about it. Great job with the wording!!


    1. Thank you!


  3. wonderfully expressed
    sweet, fuzzy
    neighbors 🙂


    1. Thanks, David! I confess I was a little less sanguine a couple years ago, when a bathing bear ripped out my pond liner. But they were here first, and I’m a great big bears fan (not Chicago :)). We know in these parts that as they are preparing for and emerging from hibernation, they’ll be ravenous and looking for easy food. We try not to provide it, as doing so ultimately endangers them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: