Mary Oliver (Black Bear)

“Somewhere a black bear

has just risen from sleep and is staring down the mountain.

All night

in the brisk and shallow restlessness of early spring

I think of her, her four black fists flicking the gravel, her tongue

like a red fire

touching the grass, the cold water.

There is only one question:

how to love this world.

I think of her rising

like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against the silence of the trees.

Whatever else

my life is with its poems and its music and its glass cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness coming

down the mountain, breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her – her white teeth, her wordlessness, her perfect love.”

March 21, 2023

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