Telling Stories in the Snow
You tell one about a princess who married
a bear. It happened like this: she left her bed
one night when the moon was full, shining
in the black lake like a giant pearl, her young
body tingling in the touch of that magic light.
Snow flickers around our tent, the flashlight
makes your face another kind of moon
and there is the bear, huge on its hind legs,
stink of grease and fur and its paws the size
of ashcan lids. The girl is awestruck, but not
afraid, and the bear loves her upswept hair.
He speaks a language of salmon and bees
and she sings to him in the key of stars and night.
Months later, when her son is born, all bright
beads for eyes and shaggy fur, she leaves
the castle for good, with its witches whining
and overcooked food. In a pool she finds
the bear’s reflection, its perfect snout and teeth
floating on the surface like a dream.
Cold clings to our shoulders as the wind
kicks us out of sleep. Your cousin rubs her
eyes, speaking in a voice soft but clear as ice,
telling of a window opening to another world
and the boys who tumble through, losing
everything they own. Which isn’t much –
their ragged clothes and a bundle with black
bread loves and a bottle of indifferent Cabernet,
but it doesn’t matter because they find skillfully
woven clothes for travelling, green boots
and knives with many blades. They find a bag
filled with white bread and meats and a bottle
of something sparkling like sunshine on a bubbling
stream. Before the horse arrives, the one
with the silver saddle and golden voice,
they are happy, eating and skipping stones
across the bright pond. Nothing to hope for,
nothing to lose. Their fingers, no longer lost or cold,
jingle furiously with bridles and keys and magic rings.
If you have any comments on this poem, Steve Klepetar
would be pleased to hear from you.