Bearing Up


Bearing Up

She shuffled through life
like a bear wearing shoes,
which is not to say
that she scratched herself
or would take any honey
who would have her,
and, honestly, “hirsute” could only truly describe
her underarms,
or when spelled differently, her work clothes–

but it does mean that she shied away
from most humans
(though not, typically, their food)
and from conflict too
except when her young were near any line of attack, when she would become as ferocious as–
well, you know–

It also explains why she wore socks always,
even in bed, her feet not as furred
as her predilections, and why she could stand no chair long–
bears preferring even a stump to a straight-back–

Shoes aren’t great for bears, but were, you know, manageable
when the kids, cubs,
a mother willing to put up with all kinds of difficulty–
snout full of ants,
the sacrifice of salmon,
even pumps–
for the sake of family time in the den,
or, better, the dew of those summer nights
when they lay together in a flattened corn field,
cubs cradled in the warm and slightly hirsute hollows
of her arms,
staring up at their starred totems–

But it also explains the hobble,
after the cubs had grown away,
and the shoes felt always too big,
or too little,
rubbing her slashed pads, the claws
curling inwards, some
wrong way.

It’s true that there were other bears around–
wolves, mammals, poultry too—
even some very cold fish, all also jammed
into shoe leather–but not being a social creature,
she did not interact with them, except to startle
at their nearby heel clicks
down city walks and tiles, and to wonder, repeatedly,
how the fish managed to tie their oxfords on
so tightly.

Perhaps had she ever gotten dancing shoes, ballet flats,
she may have fared better,
but remembering how she once carried
her erstwhile young, she always went
for a stiffer sole, something with support.
Besides, bears tend not
to be good at ballet, not liking
the barre, much less mirrors–

No, if a bear wants to see some version of itself,
it looks down to those beings it was born to protect,
or up to stars’ paw prints, glinting
in the blue-black sky.

A draft draft draft poem–meaning freshly written, little edited, and probably too long–but for my own prompt on dVerse Poets Pub, meeting the bar, to use extended metaphor. I am also linking to with real toads open link night.

The picture is mine and was originally done to ask people to bear with me in filling in the shoes on the prompt for the wonderful poet and host Brian Miller (who has computer issues.)  But I liked the picture, and it sparked the poem.  For this poem, however, the bear should perhaps have different shoes.

Also–and sorry for the plug–but please do check out my new book, a rather serious one, called Nice.  It is available on Kindle for just 99 cents and in paper back for a bit more.  Also, I would be very happy to send a hard or other copy to anyone interested in writing a review!!!!! 

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38 Comments on “Bearing Up”

  1. b_young Says:

    I (all caps) love this.

  2. Grace Says:

    Socks & shoes, you have captured her with deft strokes K ~ I admire the details because it shows the intricacies of her thoughts ~ I do like my shoes to be stiffer sole & firm though summer, I would rather like softer kind of open shoes ~ Thanks for the lovely example K ~

  3. I really enjoyed this…and how it relates to our identity as parents…

    ” if a bear wants to see some version of itself,
    it looks down to those beings it was born to protect”

  4. Rallentanda Says:

    Nice poem. I look forward to reading your ” Nice ” book as well and would be delighted to review it on my blog. No need to send it. I will purchase it .

  5. vbholmes Says:

    Wonderful personalization of the bear bouncing off the thread of her shoes–and interesting use of metaphors. Thanks, also, for the fun prompt.

  6. This reads like a fairy tale almost.. But also like the metaphor.. To feel clumsy and awkward. To rather be alone, the dedication to your offspring and the nature. So well carried through and with all these little details that make it lovable.. The last stanza is so beautiful

  7. dkirkstokes Says:

    I love the imagery invoked by your running metaphor, like startling at nearby heel clicks, and her feet not as furred as her predilections… and the play on hirsute. Also like the fish with oxfords tied so tightly. Not bad for a draft draft draft. (smile)

  8. Mary Says:

    Ah, you have really carried this metaphor through well. Thanks for the great prompt, K.

  9. Mama Zen Says:

    This is incredibly clever and truly well done. I love this.

  10. This made me smile as I’m one of those who can no longer manage high heels even if they were the one article of clothing that made me feel grown up and erstwhile sorta sexy. So I now pad around in house shoes shaped like ballet flats and also identified with the bear-mama as my husband’s nickname for me was “bear” so the entire metaphor stuck to me with a sweet kind of honey.

    Oh and yes my hearty congratulations on the book. Kudos to you, dear one!

  11. K, this write is magnificent. I wanted to hug that bear, buy her some new shoes and show her around a bear-town… You aced the running metaphors, and you used them in many different ways–not once did I get tired of running with them. smiles

  12. claudia Says:

    i love the pic… and hey… bri’s shoes are gigantic… smiles
    but you were great!!!
    i feel your mother heart in this one k…

  13. grapeling Says:

    I wonder if the bear wondered about the cow who gave her all for those Ferragamos. ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Very good question. Only she (the bear) may have been wearing synthetics! Ha. Poor cows. (This bear, me, has been a vegetarian more than 40 years, but I do buy leather.) (And use dairy.)

      I should write one about a cow next though perhaps. When I’m in the country, I am in the middle of a kind of cattle ranch–not so many cattle and a lot of space for them, but I do see them from time to time, which can be sort of fun, especially in spring. k.

      On Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 4:37 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  14. Love the title, the use of “hirsute” (I love words), the whole Mama Bear thing and your last line. I can see filling shoes around here is a tall order. You can’t be a cow-ard. 🙂


  15. hedgewitch Says:

    I read this earlier this morning and thought I left a comment, but apparently, that was a mild hallucination. First, I love how the drawing speaks for the poem in the bear’s body language, as the poem, I think is a kind of introspective one where the speaker is more focused inward than outward. I relish all the human parallels, the discomfort with the crowd, the cubs coming and going and the loneliness of the stars, the ballet shoes and barres, the fish that somehow lace their shoes too tightly(and even knowing how seems a bit above a fish’s pay grade)and so forth. A very complex metaphor, though you make it seem very clear and simple, carried through with great precision and art, k. Thanks for this challenge, and for the emblematic response.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I was aiming for some kind of Ursa Major/Ursa Minor idea with the stars but I’m not sure that came across at all. I was going to put something like that in the title, but I thought people would make some comparison with me, which isn’t really accurate–not that the ideas didn’t go through my head–but I think this bear is quite a bit sweeter and more self-effacing–but not sure the constellation bit came through–

      • hedgewitch Says:

        Oh yes I definitely got the idea of the Great Bear as I read. It’s subtle, but really rather pivotal in the metaphor, and pretty clear I thought, in the lovely line ‘up to stars’ paw prints, glinting/ in the blue-black sky.’

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Thanks! I thought it was definitely there and with starred totems, but always hard to know what is conveyed. Thanks again. K.


  16. Bryan Ens Says:

    Hope I got this right… but I see a metaphor of a somewhat shy, but certainly protective mom. Nicely done!

  17. Seems a metaphor for a down-to-earth woman who puts on no airs, nor makes apologies for who she is. Perfect!!

  18. Kathy Says:

    ..nicely done, and congrats Mama bear…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, I’m not sure if I’m that Mama bear–she seems more contemplative perhaps–and I’m not so sure I shy from conflict–being an attorney in my “real” life–ha! k.

  19. Polly Says:

    Love the bear drawing, love the metaphor 🙂

  20. I found your poem tender and full of love. Thanks. I really liked it.

    Greetings from London.

  21. Brendan Says:

    I love the way you played out the metaphor in the paired sense of “bear” — as to hold up — and the woodlands bear inside the humans we’ve become. (Maybe also the “bare” of the hairless bear.) A fun circle — the bear helps us sustain the burdens of humanity, while bearing up helps the human sustain the bear. Or something like that. You wove it wonderfully.

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