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Bears at Raspberry Time

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Fear. Three bears
are not fear, mother
and cubs come berrying
in our neighborhood

like any other family.
I want to see them, or any
distraction. Flashlight
poking across the brook

into briary darkness,
but they have gone,
noisily. I go to bed.
Fear. Unwritten books

already titled. Some
idiot will shoot the bears
soon, it always happens,
they’ll be strung up by the paws

in someone’s frontyard
maple to be admired and
measured, and I'll be paid
for work yet to be done—

with a broken imagination.
At last I dream. Our
plum tree, little, black,
twisted, gaunt in the

orchard: how for a moment
last spring it flowered
serenely, translucently
before yielding its usual

summer crop of withered
leaves. I waken, late,
go to the window, look
down to the orchard.

Is middle age what makes
even dreams factual?
The plum is serene and
bright in new moonlight,

dressed in silver leaves,
and nearby, in the waste
of rough grass strewn
in moonlight like diamond dust,

what is it?—a dark shape
moves, and then another.
Are they ... I can’t
be sure. The dark house

nuzzles my knee mutely,
pleading for meaty dollars.
Fear. Wouldn’t it be great
to write nothing at all

except poems about bears?


Hayden Carruth, “Bears at Raspberry Time” from Collected Shorter Poems, 1946-1991. Copyright © 1992 by Hayden Carruth. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Collected Shorter Poems 1946-1991 (Copper Canyon Press, 1992)
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Bears at Raspberry Time

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