Nov 302015

by Mark Vogel


The big and rough lumbers early, used to getting its way,

especially in the Tetons.  Visiting tourists wake

to mountains mimicking a black and white

Ansel Adams print.  Before the day is real

surreal mist rises off the water, and a single

puny human takes the trail flanked by bush willow,

the July frost glittering in clarity not yet heat.

Ahead round the first bend a steaming mound—

the red mangled remains of elk calf,

recognized as the dreamlike mother bear,

bigger than imagined, emerges from willows,

small eyes focused, coming to him like she

has waited for this moment.


So appropriately shocking the heavy un-filmed

scene when he turns, pathetic trying to flee,

when she has him, her mouth huge, biting again

and again thigh, shoulder, shoe, her cloying smell

earthy—he is fear kernelized, the action too fast,

never seeing two yearling cubs in cute curiosity

growling and feinting, threatening his twitching legs

as he lays surreal in disappearing fog, on autopilot

preparing to die, even as a hiker appears 200 feet away,

yelling like a good boy scout, running forward

until the bear party breaks apart.  The crumpled

tourist stares at gravel, never feeling the 911

helicopter flying above dead end trails


and wilderness, straight to Idaho.  Like an

an electrical short disconnecting then connecting,

the newest hikers don’t believe stories told and retold

walking the trails, making noise, following rules

like children, imagining steaming wet mounds.

Retreating to the lodge to spy through panoramic

windows on animals at home, in awe we can’t

help but see sentience as a private book-like

possession, though we are distracted by a

luxurious schedule, and the lunch arriving

garnished with pine nuts, with meat arranged

on the side, the blood drained away.