CLOSED: bear management in progress — from a sign on a tree near a bear trap in Ovando, Montana a night shrouded in darkness ; a tent in a town in wilderness ; a hungry bear in his territory ; who’s to say what deeds transpired in silence what light or voice or absence suddenly fulfilled or late night snack a crack or a crinkle probable cause (?) from silence, silence an argument from silence will hardly hold in a court of law (we cannot know; therefore it was) why that grizzly, that woman, that town, that tent, that night & the grizzly is guilty unequivocally irrefutably undeniably Lewis and Clark set in motion your tenuous fate : grisley — what’s in a name? (would that which we call smell as sweet) art thou grizzly grizzled grey- tipped hair art thou grisly gruesome ugly monstrous & George Ord sealed : Ursus arctos horribilis your species is horrible horrible horrible guilty guilty guilty it seemed only logical to kill the thing who killed the woman no trial necessary no Miranda rights no justice but death set the trap & lure a bear — any one of the myriad who live there will do — & ask the questions test the DNA later a bear i call you by Robert McClendon Ricky Jackson Laurese Glover Henry McCollum Leon Brown (when will it end? (in california white settlers killed them all)) is still a guilty bear in the eyes of a white cop proud boy America We hold these truths to be self-evident is a bear’s life worth less than those of those who killed it in the eyes of our Creator & We hold these truths to be self-evident : dump the 400 pound carcass of feral sinew & bone & spirit behind the dumpster in the empty lot to forget & brush it off like an unfortunate dream that never happened at all ; or carve out its holy insides & glass its eyes & stuff it with ragged newspapers & mount it on the wall as an effigy to man’s dominance over the earth & over itself to burn into Nature’s bosom blazing red the firmament on fire slowly falling in a night of quiet darkness : Oh, the humanity Oh, the humanity Oh, the humanity
I read this story and was overcome by a deep, conflicting sadness — both for the woman who was mauled and for the grizzly who was shot because of it. Neither deserved to die; and what now is the end result? What rights do we give an animal that attacks or kills a human compared with a human who attacks or kills another human? Was there a trial? Was it justified? Federal wildlife agents killed the grizzly that happened to be lured by the trap; it was about the same size as the “culpable” one, but as the article states, there are over 1000 grizzlies in the region, and the DNA test is still pending from the bear’s necropsy. In other words, there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the bear killed was the bear that attacked Ms Davis; the DNA test results are not expected until later this week.
As I began writing, I felt a strong resonance in principle with police brutality in America: how minorities and people of color are often guilty before proven innocent in such encounters, ultimately resulting in further loss of life on both sides. Thus, this poem is an attempt, if but a futile one, to rectify the balance of two lives with our humanity.
Image Credit: Tom Bauer/Missoulian, via Associated Press