A big black bear & 2 cubs
had hung around the firetower a week
feeding on fiery red bearberries.
One morning the mountain exhaled a breeze.
Dandelion heads opened, ecstatic in sunshine.
One cub nuzzled her mother’s fur
shiny in the northern salmon sun.
The other cub, with white patch on forehead
nipped its sibling’s tiny feet.
I decided to bring out my grizzly bear skull,
a gift given me by a park warden
after a female died
from a tranquilizer dart.
With bear skull in my lap, I sat down
on my cabin porch.
Suddenly, with bear skull exposed to the open air,
the pine tree I was looking directly at
started shaking furiously,
the only tree of two hundred in the yard
moving at all.
The gentle breeze still blew all across
but somehow wind galloping like Pegasus
rapped against this lone crooked pine.
The mother bear walked over
& stood tall on hind legs
staring with dark eyes at the tree
as I watched, curious & transfixed,
from the porch,
bear skull still in hand.
Who said bears had poor eyesight?
When the one-tree tempest stopped suddenly
as it began,
Mama Bear fell to the ground
feasting on sweet berries again and sniffing
in the direction of my breathlessness.
Later I placed my bear skull long term
into that aging tree.
The bear and I--
we rise like a windstorm
from deep hibernations
to witness these old trees talk.