it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

where you goin' with that flower in your hand? i'm goin' up to 'frisco to join a psychedelic band

I seem to have written the draft of a poem today, because of a pendant elisem gave me before she went on her merry way.

A simple word in the tongue of bears

So you climb.
One foot before the other. Repeat. Again. After.
To where your chest burns out from the inside
Wanting air.

At the cave mouth, Bear is waiting.
Age-clouded, lame in one paw,
Hoared with years.
She rubs her cheek with the backs of her foreclaws and squints.

"I hope you're not sucking your paws," you say,
But when she laughs it doesn't sound like the rain.
Bear says, "You only come here when you're wanting something."

You say, "What's in the cave?"
She says, "Fear."

"Fear? Is that all?"

"Fear," she says. "And the opposite of introspection. It's
A simple word in the tongue of bears,
But in yours it's honey-sticky to explain."

"I have time," you say,
Though the sun is sliding.

She says, "You came here looking
To get outside yourself.
You came here looking for the wilderness,
The alien."

You shrug,
As you might shrug in home-room.
She chews a claw.

You say, "What's in the cave?"
She says, "What do you carry?"

But the cave doesn't care about you.
You feel its cold breath, watch the exhale
Ruckle her fur back to front.
You dig a toe in the grass of the meadow and dodge her cataracted gaze.

She says, "Well, there's the vugs, for one thing."

"Vugs?" You picture some
Rubbery monster out of Roald Dahl.

He would know what to do about
An awkward conversation with a bear.

"A void or cavity in the stone, which may be paved with druse."
She has photos. Laid out on the grass,
She shows you some.
"...this vug in the Cascade Range is partially filled with crystals.
This one, from Madagascar, you can wear upon a chain..."

They look like geodes. Anchored geodes.
"So they're empty. Spaces."

"If you say so. The crystals reflect."

Bear is a physician
not a poet.
It may take her a while
To explain.
"What is the word in your language for when
You go out looking for something that's nothing like you
And you find yourself inside it anyway?"

"Do you have to be afraid of it?" you ask her.

"You are god," she says. "When I eat you, it will be the bear eating the woman,
But god will only see god eating god."

The bear regards you.
You are--go ahead, wipe your hands--
You are afraid of the bear.

"Well, that's what's in the cave," she says.
"The fearful thing. The alien thing,
That you see everywhere.
Like the world the cave
Is full of mirrors."

You edge aside as she rises. Collects her photos and comes forward.
She ambles down the same path you ascended.
Light between pine branches
Makes her dappled
As a horse.
She limps.
Her back sways.

"Oh, and one more thing."
She twists her head over her shoulder.
"This isn't Narnia."

You stare.
She sighs. She says, in patience,
"It is a simple word in Bear."

"I don't think" --you wipe your hands again-- "don't think there's a word for that in my

She turns away. She shrugs the sunlight off her shoulders
And descends.

For Elise Matthesen
17 September 2010

Tags: poetry
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