The Bears

by F.

The other day we went to the zoo to practice with our new camera. We wanted to get a feel for shooting animals (with the camera, that is) before we leave for Africa. While the tigers were sleeping, and the snow leopard was hiding behind a rock, the bears were out. They are truly awesome: looking at them, you feel a blend of respect, fear, and wonder in equal parts.

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I can’t see this beautiful, terrible animal without thinking of Ted Hughes’ poem The Bear. Yes, it’s a little juvenile, and some don’t think Hughes was a great poet. Maybe not. But still, this is what bears feel like:

In the huge, wide-open, sleeping-eye of the mountain
The bear is the gleam in the pupil
Read to awake
And instantly focus.

The bear is gluing
Beginning to end
With glue from people’s bones
In his sleep.

The bear is digging
In his sleep
Through the wall of the Universe
With a man’s femur.

The bear is a well
Too deep to glitter
Where your shout
Is being digested.

The bear is a river
Where people bending to drink
See their dead selves.

The bear sleeps
In a kingdom of walls
In a web of rivers.

He is the ferryman
To dead land.

His price is everything.

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