"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

27 February 2015



Bear died standing up,
paws on log,
howling.  Shot
right through the heart.
The hunter only wanted the head,
the hide.  I ate her
so she wouldn't go to waste,
dumped naked in a dump,
skinless, looking like ourselves
if we had been flayed,
red as death.
Now there are bear dreams
again for the bear-eater: O god,
the bears have come down the hill,
bears from everywhere on earth,
all colors, sizes, filtering
out of the woods behind the cabin.
A half-mile up
I plummeted toward the river to die,
pushed there.  Then pinions creaked;
I flew downstream until I clutched
a white pine, the mind stepping back
to see half-bird, half-bear,
waking in the tree to wet
fur and feathers.
Hotei and bear
sitting side by side,
disappear into each other.
Who is to say
which of us is one?
We loaded the thousand-pound logs
by hand, the truck swaying.
Paused to caress my friend and helper,
the bear beside me, eye to eye,
breath breathing breath.
And now tonight, a big blue
November moon.  Startled to find myself
wandering the edge of a foggy
tamarack marsh, scenting the cold
wet air, delicious in the moonglow.
Scratched against swart hemlock,
an itch to give it all up, shuffling
empty-bellied toward home, the yellow
square of cabin light between trees,
the human shape of yellow light,
to turn around,
to give up again this human shape.

Jim Harrison

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