THE HISTORY OF BEARS / Paul Zimmer Zimmer stands with a crowd in a tent, Watching the bear sob in its filthy tutu, Its stubbed claws shuffling As it turns its squalid circles To the beat of a tambourine. The bear came out of night, Shuffling and humming to itself Until it smelled man in the cave. The hair on its back stood up. It groaned and tossed its head. Bear looked into the cave and saw Its images on walls and ceiling, Saw Zimmer cowering in the corner. Bear sniffed again and went away. Zimmer feared the bear like God. He watched until it gave in To its years, then cut it open, Ate the sacred marrows from its bones, The brain from its ponderous skull, Trying to learn the love of bear. The bear lopes in the morning, Its fur pungent and steaming, Its drool spattering the frost. Last night the noise of Zimmer's dogs Ripped through its uneasy sleep. Over the crumbled, primal asphalt, Past the grey, broken shanties And tangles of old copper wire. The bear smells ancient stories Today it will retreat once more Under the turf, shattered bones And teeth of terrible
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1979
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