Thursday, June 19, 2014

Poetry Friday: A Child of the Mountains

Lately I've been dreaming about bears. One bear, in particular.

Brown she-bear from Alaska in Pictures.
I could explain this, my bears-on-the brain. There was a bear attack in my brother's Orlando, Florida neighborhood a few months after he came home to a surprise guest: a bear in his garage -- raiding the back-up refrigerator.

Recently, black bears  have been sighted near where I live in central Maryland.

But my bear is friendly. Like a hiking companion who joins me on long, outdoor walks. I'm not sure why she's visiting my thoughts, but I'm not complaining.

I've used animals as a poetry prompt before, to help elementary schoolers write about their emotions in a way that feels safe. You can read the lesson here (sorry for the wonky formatting).

Today, I'm loving this bear-poem from Gary Snyder.

this poem is for bear 
by Gary Snyder

"As for me I am a child of the god of the mountains."

A bear down under the cliff.
She is eating huckleberries.
They are ripe now 
Soon it will snow, and she 
Or maybe he, will crawl into a hole
And sleep. You can see
Huckleberries in bearshit if you
Look, this time of year
If I sneak up on the bear
It will grunt and run
The others had all gone down
From the blackberry brambles, but one girl
Spilled her basket, and was picking up her
Berries in the dark.
A tall man stood in the shadow, took her arm,
Led her to his home. He was a bear.
In a house under the mountain
She gave birth to slick dark children 
With sharp teeth, and lived in the hollow
Mountain many years.

          snare a bear: call him out:
honey-eater
forest apple
light-foot
Old man in the fur coat, Bear! come out!
Die of your own choice!
Grandfather black-food!
                   this girl married a bear
Who rules in the mountains, Bear!

Read the rest of the poem here.

I love the way that animals -- in our dreams, in mythology and storytelling -- are keepers of the animal-nature in human beings.

I hope the only bears you see on Poetry Friday are in your dreams. For more poetry posts, visit this week's host, Jone at Check It Out.


9 comments:

Linda said...

Laura- This poem is new to me, and it was wonderful to read! Thank you for sharing it, and watch out for those bears!

jama said...

Wow, that's some poem. Bears are often on my mind; interesting about the Maryland bear sightings!

Diane Mayr said...

This is my favorite bear song. It may, or may not, have been written by Dr. Seuss! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OCYIK95KXE

Mary Lee said...

Mr. Snyder kind of lost me with that poem...I'm sure I'll like yours better!

Donna Smith said...

Have you read "Blueberries for Sal"? It's an old book by Maine author, Robert McCloskey, about a bear and a little girl, both picking blueberries. Fortunately, she didn't have to marry the bear!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Seems to me, this bear that has been following you around has become your power animal. I'm sure it has something to tell you... let us know when you figure it out!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Great post, Laura! I am all over power animals and spirit guides. They are all around us if we just pause to pay attention. :0) A couple weeks ago I was visiting family in central Florida and saw some "bear" signs in a forested area near my stepsister's home. I grew up in Orlando, but there was more natural land around the city back then - not so many unsettling accounts of these encounters. I hope in your neck of the woods, your magnificent bear romps through your imagination and not your back yard!

Tabatha said...

Powerful poem! "Old man in the fur coat, Bear! come out! Die of your own choice!"

We went to a nature center last week and saw some black bears -- so beautiful and enormous. My brother-in-law told us about a guy who made himself a special suit so he could fight bears. (He's not alive any more...)

Lisa Santika Onggrid said...

Not really a fan with the writing style, but the first line of the poem sure is powerful. I have never seen a real bear around, though. They are not native at my place.