Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Four Bears


the car in front of us pulls to the side of the road,
so we do too
watching the couple ahead get out of their car,
look up the grassy slope above the road,
and gesture excitedly: a black bear!
it is so far distant that it takes a while for us to see it,
our new friend patient and helpful. . .
there it is!

we watch it forage—going this way, then that,
maybe grazing on the vegetation,
its movements seemingly random, 
first one way, then another,
the pattern reminds me of an ant foraging, 
purpose infusing what looks to be random,
20 vehicles follow our lead and stop, too,
excited to see a bear, an elusive large mammal,
whose world is its own, and our world can intersect its world
only if the stars are right, if we play probabilities well,
and luck allows us to glimpse the animal wild,
true to its own world and feeling no connection to ours,

we humans need to feel the connections to our wild cousins,
otherwise, we lose ourselves in self-centered emptiness,

the next day we start to cross the Bow River within a light drizzle,
we see some people look below the road and take pictures,
we check it all out, and it’s a grizzly!

scratching its head on a shrub, and just messing around,
a yearling back bear lopes between us and the grizzly,
an easy grace to its anxiousness 
of wanting nothing to do with this larger bear,
we continue our drive and 10-15 minutes later,
another young black bear appears by the road,
two-toned: a black bear look to its head, 
a golden to rusty brown to the rest,

it is mid-day and lunch time, 
the bear absorbed in a bush, buffalo berries,
a First Nation ingredient for pemmican,
the bear oblivious to the traffic jam it causes
and the countless cameras photographing it,
my wife claps her hands to get a particularly pesky mosquito,
and it notices us, the only time I see it react to all of us,

out of a park vehicle comes the admonition to get back into our cars,
we do, vehicles leave,
the last we see the bear it’s still eating, 
halfway through the bush’s berries.

we come back the next day, 
and it is still eating those buffalo berries.

by Henry H. Walker
July 14, ‘19

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