The Bear (Autumn Daze)
g.l. bass
(for my brother Bryon)
November, 1998/January, 2005


The bear pauses
At the peak of the bluff.
The forest breaks
To a clearing,
Just where a hand thrown stone
Corner fence line
Falls off a cliff’s edge
To an unattended end.
Thickets and gooseberry vine tangles
Amass a last unplowable corner
Of steep climbing farmland.
Even in November,
Wind shielded and open,
This corner proves a good resting place.
Here, the bear finds solitude,
Shelter and warm sun.

The bear paws, pushes, crushes, and sculpts,
His secret hideout
Atop the tower hill,
High above valley, river and town below.
The bear makes sure t here are no spies about:
No crying crows,
No baying dogs,
No bumbling hunters
Who, without invitation,
Disrupt his time of peace.
He knows
Hunters seldom challenge briars anyway.
He makes sure
His view of the valley leaves
Little chance of secret approach.
He makes sure
No fruit is left to waste in winter.
The bear settles in
And gathers in
Late afternoon’s
Fast fading warm
Auburn sun
Hung lowly
In western sky.

The bear watches remnant snow clouds
Break back across the horizon
Above the forest floor
Their dark shadows
Chase hit-and-miss sun,
Then race down t he steep bluff
Off and across the valley town
Miles below.
Far down the valley,
The woods and town
Look so much different now,
Once, summers lush green woodlands
Sheltered all secret trails,
Hid all paths,
And promised certainty of life,
Even as far as beyond
The distant graveyard.
Cold, northwest winds
Bluster, strip, and pick bare
All those promises,
All those secret trails,
All those certainties.
The bear remains unthreatened.
He has always been
(and always will be)
Part of the land.
He remains
His own secret.
His paths link
Bluff, forest, valley,
River and town
In certain promise
Not even Winter’s
Harsh wind
Can break,
Strip barren,
Or burry in blizzard snow.

In his younger days,
The bear wandered aimless,
Restless, and alone.
He worried
When Autumn’s ways
Were a daze that turned
Fickle and cold.
He was suspicious
Of even the small storms
That washed his markings away.
He felt threatened
When winter covered his paths
And buried,
In wraths of snow,
Trails he thought certain.
He feared the press of hunters,
He was sure
Not even the great river
Would secure the highlands
From the guns
Of valley hunters.

The bear is sure.
He understands the best paths
And trails
Are secrets well hidden.
He knows,
No storm or winter pain,
Will change the river,
The bluff,
Or even his tower hill.
He knows,
There are certain forest places
Hunters cannot find.
The bear is sure,
Everything has a place here.
Everything has a reason to be secure.
Atop tower hill,
The bear gathers himself
A safe place
Warm against cold winds.
His only boundaries
Are those he cannot see.
He readies himself
For the long Winter
Once more.

The bear holds his nose
Up to the sky.
He knows the smell of snow,
The anger of storm,
And the frozen fury of winter.
He is not alarmed.

The bear watches over
The valley far below.
He knows life will always
Have its way.

The bear knows,
There will always be
Beyond where he can see,
Like today’s snow clouds
Chasing shadows beyond the sun.

The bear knows,
Boundaries are not forever.
They are just other places,
And other adventures,
Life promises
Beyond the horizon.