Jane Hilberry

Crazy Jane Meets a Bear

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere,”
she says when she finally meets him.
She has been chasing the bear, but the bear
is smart. He kneels down
to brush over his tracks with the soft
branch of a fir. He catches a hint
of her scent, and is gone. It’s not
that he’s afraid of Jane, he just
doesn’t want to meet her by himself
in the woods. No one knows
what she might do, if provoked. She
has no fear of bears. She’s always wanted
a dance partner taller than herself.
Sometimes she carries a bag of berries,
a slab of ham, to attract the bear,
preferably a grizzly. If she’s going
to go to all this trouble, she wants
to find a big one. She knows
he could rip her apart with those strong hands,
knows he could lift and toss her
out of his path, but she’s used
to the risk. She muses to herself,
“Can a girl propose?”
She decides not to stand
upon etiquette. He is afraid
she would embarrass him
if he introduced her to his friends.
She never did have much fashion sense.
“I am divorcing my husband and moving in
with a bear,” she announces at a party.
Then she plunges her hand
into a pot of honey. “Some sweets
I reserve for him,” she says,
licking her own fingers.

Jane Hilberry
Crazy Jane Meets a Bear first appeared in Grrrrrr: A Collection
of Poems about Bears
, edited by C.B. Follett, (Arctos Press, 2000).