Bears Be Common — truly wild poem from 2001

NJ WILD was my first nature blog.  My readers know how very much I celebrate any aspect of wild in our beleaguered, overpopulated state.  My heart rejoiceth that bears have been seen in the Pine Barrens, near Chatsworth.  I well know the three roads where the sightings happened, experiencing a delightful frisson whenever I am in ‘bear country’.  Now, the Packet has banished/vanished NJWILD, but I had saved this sample and found it today for NJWILDBEAUTY readers.

In the fall, I believe October 6 and 7, there were Bear Sighting signs at the Keefe Road entry to my neighboring preserve, the Pole Farm.  Friends and I, unbeknownst to one another, each returned twice a day, hoping, hoping…  Of course, the bear sighting signs were supposed to have the opposite effect…

Nonetheless, this poem came to me in a potent year, and I share it with you, to remind you just what WILD really means!

If I ever publish a book of the 2001 poems, its title shall be, “Most Fierce in Strawberry Time.”

Bears, They Be Common…

“…for bears, they be common, being a great black kind of bear

                                    which be most fierce in strawberry time…”   William Wood, 1630

so early English readers

learn of wildlife in our land:

of squirrels so troublous to corn

that husbands (Wood means farmers)

carry their cats to the cornfields

hearns are herons, eel-devouring

eagles known as gripes

wolves bear no joint from head to tail

none but Indians may catch beaver

to hunt turkey, follow tracks in snow

but skip cormorants – rank and fishy

owls taste better than partridge

Wood limns the Indian game:

riding the bear over

watery plain, until

he can bear him no longer

then engaging in a cuffing match

Wood gives short shrift to omens

save cranes in faminous winters

in my starveling time

a Nebraska sandhill crane’s been sighted

in nearby Lawrenceville

yet I cannot sight

my own rare Love

whose first eagle we discovered

gripping a glowering pine

after tracking the great hearns

with and without eels

we were untroubled

by jointless wolf, fishy cormorants

at dusk we would ride the black bear

over meadow and plain

kicking with eager heels

as he splashed into inky bogwater

we held no cuffing match

yet he is elusive as Wood’s beaver

cannot be tracked, even in freshest snow

now I shall be most fierce

in strawberry time

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

March 10, 2001

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