Guard the Night

by Stephanie Thomas Berry

Mountains and Clouds

“Mountains and Clouds,” Painting by Stephanie Thomas Berry

It is bear season and the hounds
stalk the dark smell of bear,
plundering the fertile night.
The forest is muddled with fear
and even my dreams are ripples of sleep
scattered by the shouting dogs.

My son said they killed a bear this morning
just across the river—three shots
a bear with blue eyes he said
and I could see it then, the bear
strung up, belly slit open,
red organs spilling from the black-cloaked body
its sapphire eye glazed open
and staring
straight into mine.

There is no respite from the hounds
and the lust that unleashes them.
We will hunt everything down:
if it is rare, or precious
if its eyes burn with a fire we cannot claim—
We will comb the night for her jewels,
we will scour the dark for her beauty,
just to hold some mystery in our hands.

Stephanie Thomas Berry lives with her family at the foot of Mount Mitchell in Yancey County. She is a pastel painter and writer.

About Guard the Night — This poem was conceived when my teenage son told me of the blue-eyed bear killed near our home. I felt not blame nor self-righteousness, but a weariness with desire. I wanted to explore how our desire often relates to the ineffable Feminine.