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,
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.