Spirit Bear

by Thomas Davis

As cold as fish, as gray as slate, a bear
Rose from a foaming wave and walked to shore.
Above gray limestone cliffs a fiery glare
Of maples bent into the tempest’s roar.

Out in the lake clouds churned a waterspout
Into a weave of water, waves, and sky
As frenzied schools of salmon, whitefish, trout
Leapt from the wind-whipped waves and tried to fly.

The bear, eyes black as lodestone stone, stood, roared
Into the roar of waves and shrieking wind
And tipped its massive head, its voice a chord
That stilled the storm and brought it to an end.

As winter gnarled inside the bear’s black eyes,
Its breath spilled geese into the lake and skies.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

10 responses to “Spirit Bear

  1. Ina

    A lovely sonnet, remembering me of your book!
    I hope you are well. x

  2. Keeping the strength and depth of tradition alive, lest we forget.

  3. kenneturner

    Nice — I like it!

  4. Anna Mark

    Such life and spirit in this poem. And the ending is glorious:

    As winter gnarled inside the bear’s black eyes,
    Its breath spilled geese into the lake and skies.

    Winter gnarles, and breath flies. Beautiful!

  5. extrasimile

    You know Thomas, I can’t think of two more different approaches to approaching winter than ‘Sprit Bear’ and the poem I just wrote ‘A Parchment of Bones’. A bear rises up on a wave and walks to shore (not swims). He roars down the storm, brings life with him. Contrast: the last wasp of the season. He can’t even break free of a spider’s web. There is no storm, no roaring wind. The temple grows in silence.
    Is it possible these two poems can exist and be of the same world? Sure we could say to each other things like this: ‘Come on Thomas, you know that bear doesn’t really exist,’ and ‘Jim, so negative. One can’t live in such a bleak world.’(I do hear this now and then.) Of course, a good metaphor can be extended—the roar can be defiant, affirming, a summoning of the powers of the earth (and sea) (and sky), a determination powerful enough, strong enough, to endure—no, more than endure—triumph, and live wisely in the process…
    I’d like to think the ‘parchment’ metaphor can be extended too—what is parchment but skin that can be written upon?—but these thoughts are about your poem not mine.
    A near perfect sonnet (I haven’t counted all the feet, etc. Don’t plan to.) that reads as naturally as if you and I were speaking together and one of the best lines I’ve come across in some time—
    The bear, eyes black as lodestone stone, stood, roared
    —as lodestone stone, stood, roared—and I was trying to tell you that the bear didn’t really exist. Shame on me! It exists as poetry—and as such functions to ask, what is the roll of poetry in our lives?
    Its breath spilled geese into the lake and skies
    That’s a pretty good answer.
    Yes, I guess our two little poems are quite different—but I rather think they have some great commonalities too. I, for one, intend to learn from the Spirit Bear. Even here on suburban Long Island the geese do try to fill the sky.

  6. I’ll try to get to your poem later today, Jim.

    • extrasimile

      Thomas—I do realize I kind of spent more space on my poem than yours. I was just struck by the comparison. No need to comment further. Jim.

  7. Oh yes how right everyone is: this makes a glorious read, full of spirit, full of fire, full of imagination! Congratulations Thomas. I’m going to bookmark it.

  8. Wonderful, masterful poem, Thomas!

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