Mama's Bear

Panting, Mama rushed through the front door.

"I shot a bear. I think he's dead."

"You can't kill a bear with a 22,"

Daddy said. "it's not big enough."

We hurried out, Daddy limping behind,

his crutch forgotten. We piled onto

his little Ford tractor and raced to the scene.

Sure enough, we found the bear dead,

shot clean between the eyes…

Though I wasn't there, I see it clear

like watching a movie:

4 feet, 10 inches

95 pounds, white pants and shirt

stained with raspberry

juice, she picks with

both hands, filling

the bucket at her feet.

She hears a rustle, halts,

looks.

Keeping her gaze aimed straight

into his eyes, she feels around behind her, grasps

the rifle from where she'd propped

it against a log, lifts the cross-hairs

up to her gaze,

cocks,

fires.

His gaze unwavering, he

shudders,

crumbles,

drops.

She turns, kicks

over the bucket,

runs, leaving her raspberries

spilled in the mulchy debris,

beyond redemption.

"Suddenly, not 20 yards

in front of me," she said,

"he rose up

out of nowhere.

Was he sleeping, or what?"

"You foolish woman," Daddy roared,

"you could have been killed."

─ Alice Bolstridge

Alice Bolstridge, a retired English teacher, was born in Portage Lake and now lives in Presque Isle. She has been widely published in magazines and journals, including Cimarron Review (Oklahoma State University Short Fiction Award and American Academy of Poets Prize); Passager (1995 Passager Poet Award); Nimrod (finalist, 1998 Pablo Neruda Poetry Award); Maine in Print (2005 MWPA Poetry Award); Out of Line; Bangor Metro; Wolfmoon Journal; The Café Review; and many others. This poem was submitted to the Maine Postmark Poetry Competition, a project of the Belfast Poetry Festival.

Our biggest poetry event of the year, the ninth annual Belfast Poetry Festival begins Oct. 18 with a gallery hunt during the day, a performance and open reading at the Belfast Free Library in the evening. On Oct. 19 there will be workshops during the day and a catered reception preceding the grand finale, a live multimedia presentation of A Poem To Behold, featuring the works of 13 poets and 15 artists, at the Hutchinson Center's auditorium in Belfast. For details visit www.belfastpoetry.com. All events, other than the workshops, are free, with donations welcome. To volunteer, email jacob@belfastpoetry.com.

Poets Corner is curated by Ellen Sander, the Poet Laureate of Belfast, and open to submissions. Send submissions in the body of an email (not an attachment) to laureate@belfastpoetry.com. Feel free to use that email address to communicate any questions, requests, suggestions or issues about poetry in Belfast. Poet Laureate office hours are Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in the Belfast Free Library third floor conference room.