A bear stood in the road ahead. The woman stopped,
but forest shadows told her it was getting late,
too late to go around the other way.
She walked again, steeply up, refused to stare,
he stared as well, but not a stalking stare,
he stood and heard when she began to sing.
A Wintereisse from a planet as distant to his thought
as the decorating scheme of Heaven would be to hers,
in deep woods a bear stands listening to a song.
Both breathe, both share the evening air,
become endowed in cousinship of danger
tumbling to acceptance strange and safe.
Numb with intimacy, why should she fear attack?
He moved off the road to let her by,
she saw him as she passed, just as she began a second song.
Close behind a wall he stands, two cubs as well, no mother,
from the corner of her eye she sees all three,
the road is steep, remembering songs, she climbs.
—and soon again she merely breathes.