Poem in Response to We Write Poems #65 Substituting for # 67

17 Aug

Yes, yes, I saw this while walking…really. Peered into a window and saw the picture hanging on the wall. No? Okay, I wrote in response to the girl bear photo just before my computer went on strike. Then I went on strike, so have no poems for the last two prompts and I enjoyed the bear poem so much I wanted to post it …so, while I was walking…

A Girl and Her Bears

She had always had bears in her life.

She remembered her first, a Steiff teddy bear, the official one with the round piece of metal in its ear and a tag, which she had tried to chew off.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears had been one of her favourite books, especially the ending, when Goldilocks ran screaming from the house, leaving the bears triumphant in possession. At least, she thought that was how it went.

Her grandmother, who only knew two songs, used to sing the Berkeley fight song to her, but she only remembered, Our sturdy Golden Bear /is watching from the skies. For years she pictured him looking benevolently down on her.

On vacation, her parents took her to the zoo in Washington D.C. where Smokey Bear lived, the real one, not the stuffed one dressed in jeans and a Ranger hat and sold in stores. They stood looking at him and read the sign that said: “Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires”.

She loved the stories and poetry of A.A. Milne. She even had a Pooh Bear with his round stomach, red t-shirt, and wood bead eyes. He looked exactly like the one in the stories and she never saw another like him.

Paddington Bear belonged to her brother, but she saw him daily in his blue coat and yellow hat, knew his story and was allowed to be friends.

And, there was the bear her businessman father mentioned occasionally – the market is bear-ish, he would say to her mother over his evening beer, and she wondered if the one bear in their zoo had escaped and was rollicking about the local market.

When she was older and read National Geographic magazines, she learned all about grizzlies and polar bears and black bears and brown bears and, only recently, spirit bears.

She still had her koala bear, which she knew, now, wasn’t a bear, but had been all through her childhood. His fur was faded, the leather nose dry, and the ears almost bald. He would be fifty that year.

In High School, during a poetry unit, she met Adrienne Rich’s bears, wonderful bears, opalescent bears with fairy fur, the type of bears she populated her mind with.

The newest bear was a poetic bear. He often referred to himself as a grizzly, but she rather thought he might be a teddy bear, a life size Steiff teddy bear.

Note: This was such fun. At first my mind did nothing [must have been a precursor] and then I started thinking how many bears I had had in my life. I listed them, added to them and, in general, had a blast. For poems on actual walks people may have taken, visit We Write Poems.


Posted by on 17/08/2011 in exercises, poetry, writing


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26 responses to “Poem in Response to We Write Poems #65 Substituting for # 67

  1. anl4

    17/08/2011 at 9:22 am

    Bears are GREAT!!! Love it!

    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 10:41 am

      Thank you, Annell! I hadn’t realised how many there were and it was fun.

  2. vivienne Blake

    17/08/2011 at 9:49 am

    Whatalota bears you’ve had in your life. A fun romp through beardom,.

    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 10:43 am

      And that, Viv, describes it perfectly, a romp. That’s maybe partly why I wrote in the format I did. A regular poetic structure didn’t work. Now back to poems that require work.


  3. brenda w

    17/08/2011 at 10:30 am

    Reminiscing through your life with bears delighted reader me, Margo. I made many connections. Ben Mikaelsen is a Montana author who lives with a real bear. When I worked at the Albertson’s Deli in Bozeman years ago, he shopped there. He’d come to town with Buffy, his black bear in the back of his pickup truck. Mikaelsen wrote a wonderful young adult novel entitled, Touching Spirit Bear. It’s about one young man’s journey to himself. After severely beating a classmate, Cole Matthews is sent to a remote Alaskan island as punishment. The story is poignant. It’s a coming of age tale that I’ve shared with many classes of middle schoolers. Mikaelsen is a prolific author, I’ve read most of his books, and can recommend most of them. My favorite is Petey.

    I’ll quiet down now. blah blah blah…..I twirled for you yesterday, but my picture did not inspire me. I’m not sure I’ll do the walking prompt. 😦 Thanks for your bear write, it was a treat.


  4. margo roby

    17/08/2011 at 10:45 am

    Thank you, Brenda 🙂 And, I’ll check out Ben Mikaelsen [hmmm…Danish antecedents]. He sounds like a character.

    Don’t worry about the walking prompt. You know it can happen any time, or not. I’m glad you twirled, though 🙂


  5. julespaige

    17/08/2011 at 10:59 am

    Green! Green! Green!

    I suppose I shall never win the war
    But occasionally be triumphant in some battles

    The field lay littered with broken blades –
    What chance did any of those brave soldiers have?

    Just bolstered by the latest evenings’ rain
    Drunk to their fill and resting in the late afternoon sun

    I was propelled by the gas powered machine
    Set to munch and mulch all that stood tall and green

    And yet still half of the field fought well into dusk
    And I had to leave them be – lack of light and aerial assaults

    The heat of battle was stayed as I withdrew
    Wiping the sweat off from my brow in my retreat

    Do they know that they will not win?
    Tomorrow is another day and I shall finish mowing then…


    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 11:27 am

      I love reading this, Jules. It is a wonderful extended metaphor, but it is also a poem that rereads well and is more and more enjoyable each time.


  6. TheMsLvh

    17/08/2011 at 11:20 am

    I also had bears, and even passed on that tradition to my kid. The bears now live in my closet for safe keeping. This was a very fun and pleasant story. Thank you for your wonderful comment on my entry.

    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 11:24 am

      There is something about bears, isn’t there? And, you are welcome. I enjoyed my time back in California even though I am here in Atlanta!


  7. gautami tripathy

    17/08/2011 at 1:05 pm

    LOVED it!!!


    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Gautami! I confess, I do too.

  8. Mike Patrick

    17/08/2011 at 1:41 pm

    There is something special about teddy bears. Our six-year-old granddaughter received her first just after birth. Somehow it got the name Sleepy Bear, and he lived up to his name. It was her constant companion for years, and she WOULD NOT go to sleep without him. Poor Sleepy has had eyes sewn back on, ears reattached and patches placed over any hole that would allow his innards to escape. Somewhere, we have a photo of her sleeping, her thumb in her mouth and her arm around Sleepy. He is still her favorite, but he gets some time alone now.

    Sandy and I have four teddy bears we keep at the house for when the grandchildren stay over–four because we never know how many kids there will be. Even the older ones still sleep with one of those bears.

  9. mareymercy

    17/08/2011 at 1:44 pm

    She still had her koala bear, which she knew, now, wasn’t a bear, but had been all through her childhood

    For some reason, this stood as the heart of the poem to me. It may not actually be so, but it struck me that way – they’re her bears, dammit, no matter under what classification they may fall.

    • margo roby

      17/08/2011 at 3:07 pm

      Cynthia, yes? After I read your comment, I went back and reread the poem. You are quite right. That is the heart of the poem. Good for you. Of all the bears I wrote about that was the most true for me, as opposed to the speaker and that feeling clearly came across. [He’s still a bear as far as I am concerned]

  10. margo roby

    17/08/2011 at 3:01 pm

    There is, Mike. It would be interesting to talk with an anthropologist or a sociologist, whichever the -ogists would know. Tell your granddaughter’s parents to put Sleepy Bear in storage, once she outgrows him. She will be quite undone, in a good way, when they bring it out when she is about thirty. Thanks to my mother, I have the stuffed rabbit I had as a baby/toddler.


  11. wordsandthoughtspjs

    17/08/2011 at 5:59 pm

    Margo, a pleasant write. It made me feel good reading it, thanks.


    • margo roby

      18/08/2011 at 9:33 am

      I’m glad, Pamela, and thank you.


  12. Irene

    17/08/2011 at 6:49 pm

    You had me with Adrienne Rich’s bears. Bears are kind of special.

    • margo roby

      18/08/2011 at 9:34 am

      I know. Right? That Adrienne Rich poem is so gorgeous!

  13. pmwanken

    17/08/2011 at 7:12 pm

    You really did bare all for us, margo….a pleasant walk through “beardom” (as another has called it) was delightful. Thanks for sharing! (I also have a very special Koala that I have always included among my bears.)

    • margo roby

      18/08/2011 at 9:35 am

      I bare my soul on bears and I get a pun! Yes, I am grinning.


  14. neil reid

    19/08/2011 at 12:43 am

    Belated welcome home. California misses you (although right now it’s still missing me as well, being far to the north).

    More than fine that you stepped into the “way back” machine both figurative and literal (and prompt-wise too). Delightful to read. And actually I’m rather glad you did check-in on that other prompt. My first (I’m saying) real contact with the idea of “bear” came from a childhood book (back when the small town library was a small one-room former house, and you signed for your books with your actual name, no numbers then) called “The Biggest Bear”. Read it over and over. Actually dug and rediscovered it years later; even got a copy. (Maybe some less “kind” as we might wish to see today, but I was a kid and the bear was big… what more to want?)

    So thanks for this poem Margo.

    You’ll be pleased (or horrified) to know that I’m still working on that “broken rules” poem. Never looked and worked this long on a poem before. How to make something both right-and-wrong? Delightful. 🙂


  15. margo roby

    22/08/2011 at 10:37 am

    Hello, my friend. I miss California! But I always do.

    I like that: the “way back” machine. I’ll have to remember it. The bear poem was the last poem I wrote before going into full retreat for I know not why, and I love it, so am glad to have found a way to post it. I remember that library. There is something special in many of those small things we had to do, isn’t there? I think the kids miss a lot not having to do these things. My bear book with a big bear was “Mr. Bear Goes to Boston”. Loved it and still have it. My mother, bless her, kept every single one of my books from babyhood until teen years, and I have them all.

    I am pleased [how not?] and have decided you are deliberately drawing it out, but that’s fun too. 🙂


  16. 1sojournal

    25/08/2011 at 12:32 am

    Is this thirteen ways of looking at bears, and a few extra thrown in? I like it, but then bears have had a special place in my life since I saw a small black bear, sitting in the middle of an old logging road, trying to catch sunbeams dancing through the leaves. I wasn’t yet, ten years old. But the juxtaposition of all that I’d ever heard of the big bad bears, and that totally engaged response to the sunlight, was enough to make them forever a favorite.


    • margo roby

      29/08/2011 at 11:27 am

      Hello Elizabeth! I was trying so hard to find a way to get the bears into the previous week’s prompt, I didn’t even notice. I could have used this one for thirteen ways. I love the image you carry of your bear. What a treasure. My first bears were literary ones, so I loved them before I saw a real one. After “Mr. Bear Goes to Boston,” how can one not!



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