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More About the Bear


ISSUE:  Autumn 1981
This winter I live in a small house at the edge
of the tall woods. Brown trim. Latticed windows.
Rosy curtains that glow, late in the day,
when I’m inside. Outside’s snow, and black bears,
who like honey, like all bears, and seeds
and berries, and sleep, in black caves.

I never met a bear in the woods, but when
I was ten it was bear instead of doll, instead
of story. I’d mix up stories, end them wrong,
but when I went to school I’d send my Bear
off to Bearland. Later, thinking I knew
so much, I’d swear I loved that bear.

Later still, lulling a child, I told
about the bold girl who went to live
with the bears. Then I slept on her small bed,
a bear above my head, and dreamed of golden yarn
to mend the ravelled story of my life.
Was I the rose-red wife, with the golden hair?

When I woke I thought of the good gray wolf, and today
at the edge of the woods I dreamed Persephone’s story
and got the beginning wrong: she needed a father,
and maybe there’s a longer story there.
I worked in the dark myself sometimes, and after
the dream, numb with sleep, I saw through trees

to the house where love sings, and mends old clothes.
I don’t know how this story ends, but this
is where I rub my eyes. Hi-ho, my father, I
am the bear, and here, in Bearland’s rosy air,
where work is play and play is dare,
I eat red seeds, and you are the papa bear.

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