Bear Goes Metaphysical

David Huddle Click to

David Huddle is the author of seven poetry collections, six short story collections, five novels, a novella, and a collection of essays titled The Writing Habit.  He won the 2012 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction for Nothing Can Make Me Do This and the 2013 Pen New England Award for Poetry for Blacksnake at the Family Reunion.

Huddle – Bear Goes Metaphysical

If I’m not a bear, thought the bear–
and wistfulness rose in him, maybe
he was a falcon, a redwood, a slug,
a raccoon
–but then his bear brain
made him look down at his chest and belly,
and what he saw–his furry paunch,
the queer white of his skin, a tick
so full of bear blood it would soon
drop off–was like a boulder blocking
the path of his thinking.  A soft
little spring breeze, he thought, why
couldn’t I be the high meadow full
of quarrelsome bobolinks who nip
the little yellow moths from the air
when they’re hungry?  Why couldn’t I…?

but suddenly such mental bearfoolery
sickened him into standing humanlike
to bam his ribcage with his front legs,
and to angrily stomp (though he hated
when he split infinitives) Lady Fern,
Guelder Rose, and Carpet Moss until
he’d dampened his lower paws with black-
green juice, conjured a rich forest dirt
and vegetable stink to waft upward.  Oh,
that was when the bear got it straight,
not just the news of his irrevocable
bearness and the piss-ant misery
of a bear’s lot but also on the other
hand the luck of his snout, his tongue,
his penis and balls, his improbable speed,
his forever hidden-from-himself asshole,
his being no other creature or thing
than the bear that he was, an aging
and otherwise unremarkable eastern
black bear.  He was never to be a brown
trout married to icy water and speckled
slithering among stones, nor could he be
the red-tailed hawk whose killing ways
were, to the bear in his picture of it
right then–death falling from the sky–
so merciless, clean, and righteous.


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