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. Later, in another wakeful period, she will chew off the calloused pads of her feet, full of last year’s travels. She may leave the den on her new feet to eat snow — or merely dream of it. And then she’ll go back under, as if in imitation of the winter trees: sap withdrawn, roots wedged tight into the bedrock. Her heart thumps just eight times a minute. But from the fastness of her dark unhungering bulk, milk will flow.
An earlier version of this appeared back in January under the title “Kenosis.”
This concludes “Bear Medicine,” which I think of as a single long prose poem or poetic essay in 12 named sections. Thanks for reading.