By Lowell Jaeger
Mounds of black scat on the trail.
Rotted hemlock clawed and scattered.
A branch snaps. Forest silence shattered
by rocks knocked loose cliff-side, hail
of scree. Even birds and blackflies freeze
for what’s to come. I clap my trembling hands,
step forward slowly, scan side to side
for movement, shadows, brush enough to hide
a great brown hump of griz. He sees
with his nose, and god forbid his gaze lands
on me. Hairs on the back of my neck rise
by instinct I can’t name. I watch for bear;
I watch my back. Whistle to avoid surprise.
Swallow hard. My heartbeat knows he’s there.
Copyright Jaeger 2017