Bear

Honey-sweet song
Pindar

Standing, leaning, with both long-
clawed paws she rips punk
wood out of a tree with

a high hollow to get
at her cause inside—her sharp brute
parentheses tear at the living

humming word. The honey
the tree has helped the bees
hide has drawn her near with

its scent. Forcing the issue,
she’s heavy, off-balance, intent.
Flying defenders of the sweet

they’ve produced and on
which they and their larvae
depend, the bees swarm her

nose, her eyes, her tongue, her plan,
often they trace with their hovering
the lying-down eight of infinity

before they sting and fall
mortally self-wounded.
Yet always in this valor they fail

to defend—and who can succeed?—
the whole history of poetry.

More Poems by Reginald Gibbons