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  • Poetry

Margaret Koger - Bears of Redfish Lake

Near the campgrounds at Redfish

Milky Way bear-stars wink broadly

from the still water of the lake.


A black sow waits to stir at dawn

when light filters into her cave

rouses hunger to its plaintive outcry.


She’ll take her cubs to a culvert where

ants will swarm their paws as they break

the night’s fast, slurping formic acid.


On to a downfall, a rotted log harbor

for white grubs, wriggling to escape

the cubs’ sweeping, salivating tongues.


The risen sow will guide her cubs

to dig, their soft claws hardened now

ripping the ground, unearthing tubers.


Soon there will be mice and voles

meaty challenges to untested teeth

tearing open fur, skin, red flesh.


In a month or so she’ll lead them

sashaying uphill for berry picking

when huckleberries purple to sweet.


Her spirit, Big Bear of the Micmac

hunted by Chickadee, Moose Bird

Robin stained red by a bear’s blood.


So too Callisto, once a Roman maiden

then Juno’s groundling sow, so debased

mighty Jupiter pitied her and her son


...snatched them through the air,


said Ovid,


In whirlwinds up to heaven and fix'd them there.

Frigid points of fire, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor

never to dip below the northern horizon

never a freshening drink or a cool bath.


Inside the dark mantle of her cave, the sow

cuddles her dreaming cubs, falling asleep

as campers drink from night sky dippers.




Margaret Koger is a school media specialist with a writing habit. She lives near the river in Boise, Idaho. Her poetry appears most recently in The Amsterdam Quarterly, Red Rock Review, Collective Unrest, Heartland Review, Inez, Voice of Eve, Headway, Burning House, Tiny Seeds and The Chaffey Review. “Ripe Figs,” placed as a 2018 finalist in the Heartland Joy Bale Boone Poetry Contest. “Washing Red Leaf Lettuce” was a finalist in the 2019 Lascaux Poetry Contest.

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