Walk in the Woods


Walk in the Woods

I read this morning that walking in nature quiets
the frontal cortex, frees
something, but I walk so fearful of bears this evening
in this all too natural wood, my frontal cortex busy
with bewaring, that anxiety cantilevers a small cellblock about me,
a prison of projection my sneakered toes shuffle forward,
my knees bang into, and that I only break through
to start
at the flickering of moths in the fiddleheads,
the shifts of darkness
against dead trees,

until, bowed by own nervous system, I try simply
to keep my head down–what I don’t see
won’t hurt me–
(the fact is I am thrilled whenever I see a bear,
I keep telling myself)
and now my brain’s sovereign is
the brood
as I replay with blurred certainty the bared foolishness
in the mails I sent today,
every sop of misrendered advice,
sighting in the brain-garbled distance
sure evidence of cortex’s demise, underlined
by pre-demise inadequacy–

It all comes to the same thing, truly–
a fear of bear racing–(a chase I’ll surely lose even tumbling downhill
where they’re supposed to be at a disadvantage)–
and a fear
of the embarrassing–

Then, I remember–and now I’m trudging uphill (where I’ll be too slow
for any bear, so try not to physically look back)–
that a dear friend died
five years ago today.

She would have liked to live
to fear foolishness, even maybe
bears. Yes.

I can’t find anything
freeing there,
until I arrive, in the green stumble, at one of her favorite stories–
a time she greeted a doctor, after sitting in a hospital chair all night, next to a sick son,
with a long string of dental floss impossibly stuck
between her teeth–you know how early
they make their rounds–how neither she
nor the doctor mentioned
that long crooked dangle
as they both tried to seem supremely
competent, focused on charts
and probabilities, the boy’s
soft breathing.

And foolishness, bared, suddenly doesn’t seem
so bad; being a know-it-all not so appealing
in the context of
an afterlife, the knowing of
what’s next–

Almost home, I think of her round smile–her teeth were
quite big actually, her smile bigger,
a flash of incisor at each side–

Almost home–
and I think
of her
round smile.

Sorry sorry sorry for the length and the fact that it’s not really a poem, and that it’s so much like all of them lately, but here’s what I’ve done for Grapeling’s “Get Listed” challenge on Real Toads.  Ps==drawing mine, an old one–the bears are really not that big here!  


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13 Comments on “Walk in the Woods”

  1. Sumana Roy Says:

    really loved the word play all through…

  2. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    Perhaps it is indicative of how far south I am from the equator that the thought of seeing bears in the wild seems so cool (I guess some might think it cool I regularly see giraffe on a drive to the freeway). But i love so much more about your poem than simply the way you tell us of your trepidation, the juxtaposition of the working day but also how your thoughts lead quite naturally to thoughts of a friend who has passed away. This reminds me of the frailty of life in so many ways.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Kerry, seeing a bear in the wild is in fact super cool. I truly am always thrilled when I see one. But there have been a couple of times when I was quite terrified (once the bear just outside a tent I was in with my kids), and so I have mixed feelings about them. I love, in short, seeing them in the distance! I haven’t actually seen one this year, but last year and the year before had several sightings. The giraffe sound beautiful– k.

  3. journalread Says:

    This made me happy and sad – such a loving yet unsentimental tribute to your friend – I love the idea of bears but would be scared rigid 🙂

  4. X Says:

    The woods can be dangerous. There are many things even more dangerous than bears, but a bear could def do it. Just dont mess with them and they will usually leave you alone though. I find peace in the woods mostly. There is the nagging feeling of danger. I am more afraid of being shot by some anxious hunter really.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I am lucky that we are pretty isolated, and hunting is limited strictly to certain times of year! I agree. I have been known to not only wear red but sing loudly! k.

      On Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 12:51 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  5. hedgewitch Says:

    I like the way you dance around with the bear-sound(if maybe not yet willing to so with bear itself) in so many phrases, as if to point out and over-discuss the fear, over-cerebralize it, the way we do, to make it something that is like other somethings and thus not so frightening, but it is, even when pulling out a thousand distracting examples of the positive to focus on–though the focus on the smile has a sense of both mortality and healing oddly mixed, so that it shines as the clear point of it all somehow. Like X, I am far less afraid of bears, whose behaviour can be predicted, than humans.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I was thinking of that too last night–this particular place quite far from any road–but still! k.

      On Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 1:27 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  6. ellaedge Says:

    I, too feel sad about your friend~ The first time I saw a bear was in a corn field. I thought someone had a real sense of humor. A bear faced scarecrow was what I thought I was seeing. I was driving and just saw the bear’s face-how clever, I thought. Until I got closer and the bear disappeared. A real bear….I was stunned. I love the ending~

  7. Oh, man! I love your phrase “prison of projection” – and, as for those incisors revealed in a smile… Eeeek! Nice write. Cheers!

  8. C.C. Says:

    The drawing is absolutely gorgeous….stunning the way you’ve captured the light……and I love this observation that captures the crux of it all:

    “She would have liked to live
    to fear foolishness, even maybe
    bears. Yes.”

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