Kenosis

Mid-January, & the bear
who hasn’t had
a meal in two
months, & won’t for
another three, half-
wakes to chew
sticks into soft
chips—bedding
for the cubs who
will soon be born
& squall
& nurse.
She may leave the den
to eat snow or merely
dream of it.
Her heart beats
eight times a minute.
But from the fastness
of her dark
unhungering body
milk will flow.


I’m indebted to a blog post from the North American Bear Center, “Lily Makes Bedding,” for the detail about chewing sticks — which sounds as if it was new discovery for the researchers. (The bear in the poem is on more of a Pennsylvania hibernating schedule, however.)

7 Comments


  1. I just love the flow and rhythm and tone of this, which are all so expressive (as well as the subject, of course).

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    1. Thank you, Jean. I’d kind of gotten away from enjambment for the last couple of years, but I think it works here, and I’m thinking of trying to integrate it into my poems more often from now on.

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  2. wonderful. both the creature and the words. thanks j

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  3. Every few months I come back to re-read Bear Medicine. Every time I’m moved. I long to have it in my hands, as a book. Even though it’s easier to find on-line than it would be on my overpopulated bookshelves! But perhaps you’ve moved on …

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