Owner of the Earth

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 And then she’ll go back under, as if in imitation of the winter trees: sap withdrawn, roots wedged tight into the bedrock.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.

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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.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

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