This time of year big black refrigerators of the woods, bears, still slumber in the United States.
Bear specialists tell us that here in Florida, they don’t enter a true hibernation.
A few published poems of mine are about black bears. That is fitting as these wild, grub and berry eaters and I have met up three times unexpectedly. I’m not looking for any more crossing of paths, except in literature.
When I pick up a poetry collection that is new to me, as I have with Lucille Clifton’s evocative BLESSING THE BOATS, I am drawn to any poem story that employs themes in my world, such as the Ursus topic.
BLESSING’s poem, “imagining bear” is dedicated to Alonzo Moore, Sr., by Lucille Clifton.
In part, it reads:
imagine him too tall and too wide
for the entrance to the parlor
imagine his hide gruff; the hair on him
grizzled even to his own hand
imagine his odor surrounding him
rank and bittersweet as bark
I am struck by this on a rainy Wednesday morning. An idea I ponder is how fur-bearing animals don’t catch colds, develop bronchitis, from routine soakings in the wild. (Manatees can develop pneumonia.)
A character I have summoned and have put on an island is someone who I think of in bear metaphors.
Clifton’s bear and my bears, new character and in poems (Milkweed Editions, the one & two with The Journal of Florida Literature) aren’t the Orlando bears most associated with my state, the theme world entertainers.
Although, tenderly handling the ragged bear hand puppet that survived my childhood, I found a muse to bring me bear poems for little children.
In sober poems, bears frighten. They are prowlers.
As Clifton writes:
imagine his growl filling the wind