THE BEAR'S WALK
Was he polite, or simply slow?
To my delight, I didn't know,
For I was by the glowing stove
And chilled enough, to see him go,
Without the terror of the grove
Where drowsy autumn bears may rove:
I nearly met him face to face
Beside my ripened apple-trove.
Through honey dusk and window lace,
I watched him pad away to grace
The lawn with his black bulk, that cast
A cloak of shadow — and in case
We meet again — or meet at last:
He held the amber moment fast
As if my little life had passed,
As if my little life had passed.
The night was black, the night was deep;
Too vast for one, too still for sleep,
And where the vault stood glittering,
The snow-white suns rolled in to keep
That sigil of the cruel spring
Emblazoned there: the vernal king
Whose miniature, now waked from cave,
Trod down the sugar snow to bring
His nightly noise, that tries the brave.
I heard him shuffle, growl, and rave,
And drew the quilt above my head,
And thought my bed was like the grave,
So safe was I, within his tread,
For panicked thief and cur had fled
As if I was already dead,
As if I was already dead.
The month was May, the night was mild,
The setting neither tame nor wild,
And on the span, where waters ran,
A mother lingered with her child
As bears have done, since bears began,
Before a bridge, before a man
Had come to cross the crystal road.
By sun and moon, the shaggy clan
Take salmon from that silver lode
And make the woods their fair abode
Within the prism of my art:
The sonnet, villanelle, and ode.
Unmindful of the bitter dart,
They softly come, and softly part,
As if the watcher had a heart,
As if the watcher had a heart.