The Story of Brave Bear Woman

His scalp torn off, skin broken by the bear’s

yellow teeth—under the harvest moon he lies,

unmoving, and the woman beside him holds

his dark blood in the cup of her palms;

they have been married a year. Any sound

she makes will only call the bear back, so

she does not cry, barely breathes, as she rises,

lifts him, staggers forward; she know it is miles

to the road and any chance of help.

 

She rests, half-falling, against a leaning spruce,

hearing his labored sounds in the cruel hush

of the cold night, wishing, perhaps, a cessation

of it all, a final relaxation, but she can’t stop,

totters onwards, each breath a wound, every muscle

knotted, she stumbles, half blind, onto the road—

a wavering shadow in the silver searchlights,

a nightmare figure on the dark black road.

 

Months later, they return to the forest, walking in

with the faint fall of first snow, she still limping

a bit, he with a permanently bald head; she freezes

with memory, can’t believe what she did under

that full-bellied yellow moon, how that night

she was filled with a bear’s might—its ferocity,

blood, and need—she knows she could never

explain that night to him.

 

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