Ursine Conversation
by Pam McNew




Are you part beast? Part magical bear?

Do you long for twilight dens and caves underneath the earth

in the autumn?

I, myself, crave a comb or two of honey, with an occasional bee,

as a snack in the evening.


Did you ever study books upon the craft of war?

Or, perhaps, you prefer hand-to-hand combat?

Isn't it wonderful to have a rough, sturdy tree upon which

to scratch your unreachable back?

And, yes, I, too, enjoy fruit pies aesthetically placed

upon a red and white checkered tablecloth,

at the edge of the woods, in the middle of the summer.


Have you ever been plagued by a thorn caught

in between the pads of your paw?

Or haunted by the smell of fresh fish?

Or restless in your sleep, dreaming your skin

has been caught on a branch and as you tug and as you pull,

your skin peels away from you, off of you,

and beneath your dark fur, you are someone pale and fragile,

entirely different, although familiar as well?

I dream that too. And when I dream it, I awaken in tears.


Do you believe in tree climbing? Theodore Roosevelt?

Chinese medicine?

Would you ever allow a Saint to ride upon your broad back?

Once, when I was young, I rode a bicycle in a circle

with a ridiculous hat upon my head. There was applause,

but I pretended not to hear it.


Have you ever gone into a stranger's house

and checked out their refrigerator, peeked into their closets,

looked into the medicine cabinet?

Have you ever found a stranger sleeping in your bed?

Do you attend tea parties? Square dances? Poetry readings?

Are you grumpy in the mornings when you are first awakened?

Or in the evenings when the day has been too long?

I, also, believe in naps and hugs and the beauty of roses,

I, too, believe in love and light and life, even if it is denied to me.


Are you a Prince in disguise? Or only a soldier?

Would you marry for salvation? Or love for redemption?

Do you grunt with excitement, roar in anger,

occasionally chase butterflies?

Do you look at the night sky and see me there?

Do you long, as much as I long, for a magic to cure it all?



About the Author:

Pam McNew  has had fiction and poetry published in Strange Horizons, The Fortean Bureau, Chiaroscuro, Say..., and Lone Star Stories.


Poem 2007 Pam McNew.