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Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

The Rendezvous

How narrow the bear trail
through the forest,
one paw print following
the other in the manner
of good King Wenceslas
tagged by his faithful serf.

How, according to the legend,
a bear is able to feel shame
and if a woman meets a male bear
she should take off all her clothes,
thereby causing him
to run away.

How I meet a male bear.
How I am careful not
to insult him. I unbutton
my blouse. He takes out
his teeth. I slip off
my skirt. He turns
his back and works his way
out of his pelt,
which he casts to the ground
for a rug.

He smells of honey
and garlic. I am wet
with human fear. How
can he run away, unfurred?
How can I, without my clothes?

How we prepare a new legend.

Maxine Kumin
Looking for Luck
W.W. Norton and Company
©1993, Maxine Kumin
Used with permission

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