Yaak River by Marc Beaudin

Our appreciation–and concern–for our wild friend the grizzly is awakened in Marc Beaudin’s “25 Bears,” as he takes us onto Montana’s Yaak River in this visceral poem from Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry, 2022.

25 Bears
Marc Beaudin

The promise of flycatchers
hidden in the deep wood
tease of song from the shadows

The diamond light of water
breaking into river’s breath
against the faces of rock

The caress of cedared wind
& undulations of fir trees
standing-room-only on a west-facing slope

The scant clouds pawing their way
across the sky-blue sky
that is nothing but sky-blue

The taste of this coffee
on the cabin’s deck high above
the voicings of the Yaak River

& all the rest of it
made richer by the fact of those
remaining 25 grizzlies

out there living
their perfect ursine lives

Without them, colors fade to sepia
sounds to a distant tin & we lose
some part of ourselves impossible

to describe to future generations
who will grow old believing
that the natural shape of their soul

is to have a cold dark nothing
lodged at its center—a hole the size
of a bear track in the spring mud

Read more poems, short stories, and essays from and about wild places in Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry. To order a copy of our current or past issues, and to read our submission guidelines for the upcoming issue, visit deepwildjournal.com

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