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A Thirst That's Partly Mine

by Liz Ahl

2008, 25 pages

Winner of the 2008 Sapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition.

"The Bear"

The black bear on my deck at 3 A.M.
will not be rushed away from what she came for—
one plastic tube of birdseed carelessly left out
overnight during the season of her greatest hunger.
Except for the occasional glint of fur-shine
she’s all shadow in the crisp, liquid moonlight.

I tap on the glass, the pinch a dreamer asks for,
dimwitted by her appearance, disbelieving
the fifteen-foot climb she had to make
for mere handfuls of seed. She’s got the feeder
in her jaws, easily, like a dog on a bone,
and starts back down, rump first, over the edge,

thick claws scraping against the grain of the planking,
against her own growing winter weight.
She has to let herself drop the last feet to the ground,
and when I know she’s landed, I creep out for a look.
Now I’m a threat, through the glass and into her turf,
so she tosses a hoot up into the chilly air.

A rough rustling from the yard’s edge, snap of branches,
and then, one each, from two trees, her apple-round cubs
thump onto the grass, like the very fruit they’re full of.
They bumble into the brush together. In my head,
a stern voice recites the sermon about the ferocity
of mothers, what they’ll do for their young,

why I shouldn’t have opened the slider. She was hungry —
she weighed risk, parked her cubs, didn’t ever see me
as a genuine threat. I was just a ghost beyond the glass,
a random tapping at the edge of her consciousness,
small splinter in hunger’s gaunt side. I was uninvited.
I should have been sleeping, but instead

some fearful shadow in me was waiting to be scared awake
by noises, by suspicion. Maybe I should have rolled over
and sunk back down into dreaming. She’s plodding
in that direction — the long sleep calling her
to store up for another winter. Any creature might be
pushed by desperation, animated by gut fundamentals
to follow hunger’s taut rope through darkness.

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Audio Sample:

As read by the author,
Liz Ahl


About the Author:

Liz Ahl
Praise For A Thirst That's Partly Mine

Liz Ahl brings a naturalist's close observation and a metaphysician's wry wit to poems about our lived experiences in the natural/physical world.

—Robin Becker

The Hudson Valley Writers' Center  |  300 Riverside Drive Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591  |  914.332.5953  |