Ursa Major

Ursa Major | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Old she-bear, pent
in her rocky den,
gnaws a footpad
dry as dust,

solitary rakes in sticks
and scratches the scar
that marks a hunter’s
mis-aimed lead.

Shaking the ice
off her frozen fur, she licks
the snow and huffs
out clouds of steam.

She glimpses the night
through a gap
in the rock, sees
her starry sister

whirl across the sky.
They watch each other
all the frigid season, nodding
across the distance.

The cubless months are long
but she’ll wait out
dark days and the cold
morning rime.

Come spring,
she’ll rise like heat
and blink into
the unfamiliar sun.

Come spring,
she’ll sniff the air, nose
out what’s been lost
by winter.

Laura Orem is a poet, essayist, and artist living in Red Lion, Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and teaches writing at Goucher College. She is a featured writer for “The Best American Poetry Blog” and is a senior editor for Toad Hall Press.
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