Friday, November 30, 2007

Urban Bear

In Juneau - even in town - it's not unusual to hear a noise in the middle of the night, and look outside to see a black bear getting into some mischief. Bears that persist in pestering a neighborhood, especially bears that have lost their fear of being around people, are often tranquilized and relocated, compliments of the Forest Service.

One morning my friend, Cyndy, with whom I worked, came to the office telling about her encounter, the night before, with a bear in her back yard. I wrote this poem for her.

Urban Bear

Rattle of cans, clatter of bottles!
Lifting a corner of the pull-shade
she takes in tonight’s good-natured bay
and the moon-washed, spruce-bough canopy.
“Not the wind,” she mutters.

Door ajar, she peers into the night.
He stands erect, nose testing the air,
paws draped across the garbage-shed roof.
Moonlight polishes his glossy fur,
and frames his upright ears.

A hot cloud of breath is suspended
in the frosty air. Glittery eyes
assess her with a slight hint of fear
and a measure of self-righteousness.
He considers the risk.

She smiles at the sweet intimacy
of the moment. Bruin and human
sharing the shadows. She speaks softly,
“You’d better get out of there, my friend,
or you’ll be in big trouble.”

He drops heavily onto all fours,
responding with a deep breathy “woof”
and lopes off into the underbrush
of Juneau’s thick coastal rain forest,
abandoning the trash.

-- October 2002

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