The Bear on the Delhi Road

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Unreal tall as a mythby the road the Himalayan bearis beating the brilliant airwith his crooked armsAbout him two men barespindly as locusts leap

One pulls on a ringin the great soft nose His mateflicks flicks with a stickup at the rolling eyes

They have not led him heredown from the fabulous hillsto this bald alien plainand the clamorous world to killbut simply to teach him to dance

They are peaceful both these sparemen of Kashmir and the bearalive is their living tooIf far on the Delhi wayaround him galvanic they danceit is merely to wear wearfrom his shaggy body the trancedwish forever to stayonly an ambling bearfour-footed in berries

It is no more joyous for themin this hot dust to pranceout of reach of the praying clawssharpened to paw for antsin the shadows of deodarsIt is not easy to freemyth from realityor rear this fellow upto lurch lurch with themin the tranced dancing of men

© Earle Birney