Look, read Galway Kinnell's poem, "The Bear", before you read Wilbo. That's a poem in the key of Dylan Thomas and his "Rage, Rage against the Dying of the Light". Do not go gentle into the dying of the summer. Do not.
I am happy to say in my hunting after the world of men and women, I have heard Galway Kinnell read several times at the University of Michigan. I heard him read, "When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone" when it was a fresh poem, and I felt embarrassment as he read it. He meant it. I have no idea if I were feeling embarrassment for him or for myself because I was traveling alone to Ann Arbor for literature and poetry almost every night I could get away from Northville. The two car family has to be a divorce ridden demographic. I was making a mess of my first and only marriage when I was cruising to Ann Arbor for poetry and literature and finding sex. Kinnell published a collection of verse by that title in 1990. I was introduced to Kinnell's "The Bear" by a woman named Nadine, Nadine the Dream, who wouldn't let me fuck her without conditions. Her pussy I could eat without conditions of any kind. I have never heard a woman scream with that intensity, as intensely as she screamed during her multiple orgasms that began almost with the first lick. She had a favorite poem and I read it. When I read it a second time, I wasn't pandering. She also made me walk out of a poetry reading with Donald Hall, Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon before Donald Hall had read. Hall might understand why. He had written in one of his long works of personal mythology, and I paraphrase, "They took off their clothes, and laid back".
I saw three mounted bear the other day at a hunting lodge in Hesperia, Michigan: one black, one brown and one bearing the white fur of the polar bear. All had been taken under in a sportsman's manner, slain quickly with a bolt from a bow and arrow. All had reached an age when it was assured that the bear had passed his genetics on freely and fully to the next generation. All had been taken in a way that allowed the local authorities to collect fees to maintain habitat and prevent poaching. I was amazed by the sight of the three, especially the polar bear. I have only seen a polar bear family at the Detroit Zoo, where the swimming bears pass overhead, swimming over an acrylic tube passing beneath a refrigerated lake. I have a picture of my daughter I downloaded from Facebook; she was hugging a polar bear plush in the gift shop. I haven't bought it for her because she took ten shopping bags of plushes last week to the Goodwill. For what is she giving up the gifts of childhood? She saved the dolls and the hand puppets I gave her. Thank goodness. I think of the poem "The Bear" and I have insight into mammalian effort. It took a lot of effort to conceive that child. The deer rut is not big dance party either.
I am acquainted with an artist called Patricia Dee, and she loves the Grand River. She kayaks there. She paints there. She organized a show named "Seasons on the Grand" with forty beautiful works of art celebrating the Grand River flowing through Ottawa County. The riparian corridor of the Grand River has been declared a greenway, and we celebrated this ecological, cultural and economic wonder for a month straight. There's a kayak outfitter called Felix Pytlinski who has lived on the bayous of the River Grand most of his life, more than 75 years. He once had 76 guns stolen from his store in the 77th year of his life, 2008. The Pytlinski family had the good sense to collect paintings by Lewis Lumen Cross, who painted in a castle on the neighboring Deremo Bayou.
Dee and her boyfriend, a retired naval officer decorated with many honors, and they set off kayaking in the bayous, lined with cattails and grasses. The landing of Felix Pytlinski makes a great place to access the water. The pair reported finding a bear camp in the grasses, smelling the scent of freshly bent grass and noticing fresh scat. Felix's on Green Street stands only six miles southeast of the Theater Bar in downtown Grand Haven, where I often sip a glass of wine with Dee and discuss art. The bears chose to be our neighbors. I am excited by this fact. I can imitate their spirit.
I am setting off on a long journey north that will not complete until after sunset.
More Galway Kinnell
Animal species: Asiatic Black Bear (Wroclaw zoo)
30 November 2007