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Posted on Jul 1, 2013

Bear Medicine | An Excerpt from Wild Life by Jamie K. Reaser

Bear Medicine | An Excerpt from Wild Life by Jamie K. Reaser

A new excerpt from Wild Life: New and Selected Poems by Jamie K. Reaser. Fea­turing a fore­word by Edward E. Clark Jr.,  President of the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Wild Life is now available in our bookstore, on Amazon, B&N and wherever books are sold. Jamie is author of such books as Note to Self: Poetry for Changing the World from the Inside Out and Sacred Reciprocity.





I saw you there in the

humid oak-poplar wood

of late summer morning.


Lanky young bruin

with perfect posture

and amble,


deftly trampling the

delicate ostrich ferns

with each



as you made your

way, intentfully

and agape,

up the rocky mountain slope.


I waited,




like someone who had

just found an unyielding

faith in long-rumored miracles.


Your journey and my journey

will intersect this day.


“Bear medicine,”

some would say.


And we did have our moment.




Standing still.


Fully aware of the other’s earthly presence.


Looking deeply into each other’s sight-full eyes.


Breathing each other’s privileged breath

in a way that even a poet shouldn’t

try to explain.


And, there, on sacred ground,

I couldn’t contemplate ‘bear medicine.’


Couldn’t feel it tingling the hairs on my arms.


Couldn’t sense it transforming the course of my days.


Couldn’t bring myself to walk,

for even a second,

between the thin-veiled worlds.


No, no as we moved on from that moment,


You climbing Northwest,

Me climbing Southwest,


All I could think about was this:


What is human medicine to a bear?


What is human medicine to a bear?


Is it powerful?


Is it kind?


Does it leave you feeling grateful and graced?


Or, is it…?


Or, does it…?


This is what you left me with.


This question:


What is human medicine to a bear?


This question.


This question that has stilled me

in the dark silence of mySelf,


seeking the wisdom of thoughts

I’ve never before known.






Bear medicine.


Photo: Bear Print © Jamie K. Reaser




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