Bear Kinship


Bear Spirit
A

LETTERS

From Anonymous - 19 Jun 2007

Thank you for communicating about the bears, I am hearing horrors from all corners of bear country, including right here in the Catskills where huge percent of their remaining numbers are "taken" each year in 'bear season'. In recent years I no longer find their tracks, their overturned rocks, nor have I seen one ambling around with their amazing intelligence and curiosity and beauty in the dawn hours as I used to, for years now.

I offer this poem from Mary Oliver, reminding us of the unfounded fears of the beautiful, magnificent black bears in our midst:

The Chance to Love Everything
By Mary Oliver

All summer I made friends

with the creatures nearby ---

they flowed through the fields

and under the tent walls,

or padded through the door,

grinning through their many teeth,

looking for seeds,

suet, sugar; muttering and humming,

opening the breadbox, happiest when

there was milk and music. But once

in the night I heard a sound

outside the door, the canvas

bulged slightly ---something

was pressing inward at eye level.

I watched, trembling, sure I had heard

the click of claws, the smack of lips

outside my gauzy house ---

I imagined the red eyes,

the broad tongue, the enormous lap.

Would it be friendly too?

Fear defeated me. And yet,

not in faith and not in madness

but with the courage I thought

my dream deserved,

I stepped outside. It was gone.

Then I whirled at the sound of some

shambling tonnage.

Did I see a black haunch slipping

back through the trees? Did I see

the moonlight shining on it?

Did I actually reach out my arms

toward it, toward paradise falling, like

the fading of the dearest, wildest hope ---

the dark heart of the story that is all

the reason for its telling?

Oliver, Mary. "The Chance to Love Everything." Dream Work. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986, 8-9.

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