Pepper spray holstered to my waist, I watched

the trees with all my skin open on that narrow


brushy trail in Alaska, as we made up

songs that rhymed with bear. The only


bear we saw was black and freshly dead,

lush folds of shining fur, draped over a rope


tied to the back of a four-wheeler. My friend,

we are closer as prey, as warm singing bodies


against the ice and endless snow. When we reached

the open rocky knoll above the glacier’s blue


teeth, we let there be silence after what we told

each other. Each broken thing shone in our open


palms. At home, in the mountains down south,

the silence I thought was one emptiness


has become another. I’m afraid

of how I keep circling the story—


a woman who moved to the north country—

glacier-polished bedrock, ragged peaks, deep forest


where she surprised a sow and her cubs. The bear hit

the end of her charge inches away, her roar reverberating


in belly and bones. When she swiped her giant paw,

it made wind and took skin off one thumb before


the bear huffed and turned away. What I keep circling, though,

is what the woman said after, almost shy of her own


truth— it was like coming home. I don’t need

to tell you this, my far-away friend, our love


lives in that charged air, the emptied

swollen quiet when the bear was gone. The wildness we keep


after, sure it misses us as much as this want of it we carry.