BEARBRIDE (Bear Poems, 2)

When I first saw you,
in the starless dark at summer’s beginning
(shadow, stubble, and eyes),
this was not what I then dreamt.

I dreamt Beauty’s Beast,
transformed through the fingertip power of love.
Seeing your kindness, I
forgot the story went on.

When you turned you back,
padding furred and black into the night, I knew
some other time would come
without my following you.

So I waited well,
without understanding what was left to fear,
turning myself back to dance,
hair swirling in other’s eyes.

Now, you have returned.
Now, I am a foolish virgin, unprepared
for the grimace and grunt,
for the wild light in your eyes,

for your clawtipped reach.
I had not thought of what all that weight would mean.
I had not thought, not dreamt
of a dark beast untransformed.

As grass bends beneath
your broad belly, a fluted frightened mewling
escapes my tongue, my throat
liquid sound twined in itself.

I had not known I
was such a child to still be afraid of dark.
Perhaps we always are.
It seems more than I can do,

to reach to touch you
willingly, love you in whom I believed not.
I back into branches,
forest holding me under

the leafed canopy
where I await the kiss of your ungroomed mouth.
The transformation is
unexpected, unforeseen.

My flesh veiled with fur,
my touch newly weighty, my gown torn. I grow
dark, darker, exhaling
a breath thicker than red wine,
the glass of my hand shattered.

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