William Holbrook Beard, The Bears
The great blue bear
rises at dusk, over the scrolled light
of day, in early spring.
Stars stuck in his paws like thorns,
his long stiff tail
hung on a peg
like the handle of a black iron skillet,
he unwinds, the grandfather
of all clocks
and collects his tolls
ticking over the bed of dreaming earth.
All kinked with winter,
the bear hugs to himself
the great cold swarm of far suns,
the ten thousand and one torn and curdled veils
of she who he so loved
that when, in her den, he raked up her must
from the litter
of her splendor
the bear could only seek her as prey.
The bear dips and pours, gigantic ladle,
dips and stirs
muddying the black water of the cauldron
with cold milt.
Prospecting for roe, he slaps meteors
from the milky way.
You who have eyes, drink in this dark.
In holy greed the bear laps at stardust,
the sludge of nebulas, the seep
of blue honey from a drowsy hive
of black holes,
until his tongue
is buzzing with sisters.
You who have eyes, taste
in the salt of tears
the sting of sweet jesus in mother night.
I’m feeling rather bearish today. This happens to me in May. I wrote the poem, The Great Bear, back in, um, May 1995 or so, and posted it on the Tent Show in May 2010. I still like it. And it is May.