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The Bears

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
          Kings, Book 2 (2:23)

There are fewer and fewer animals in the capital.
Less and less often
are the torches of bears
raised above the tall
towers of apartments.
More and more often,
they fall down
shrieking
in an eclipse.
Snorting, they lick
the ears of stone sailors on rooftops.

Semi-transparent.
More like tea leaves than bears.
In deserted circuses,
they are wrapped in tarpaulin
like giant candies.
Their symmetries were beaten out
with crowbars,
until they were bent to the good
and it was made plain:
better a cow in India than a bull in Spain.
Even so, we offended Elisha-
two score children and all half-witted-

and down the hill he went, flapping like canvas,
pigeon-toed, tender,
made soft with pride,
as we are, by rage, before we die.
We were off to the country to gather a muckle of unbound pages.
Laughing, we plucked the books of Mao.

We were naked as syntax.
The Word moved among us. It moved us.
Exquisite and vicious, we wagged our tongues
at the prophet:
"Behold, Elisha's is the light! Even bald!"
two hairdressers cried.
Two Medeas emerged from the forest.
Two bears electrified.
Two she-bears, one great and one small,
lunged at us in a fury
to asphyxiate to maul.

Translated from Russian by: 
Wayne Chambliss
Original source: 
Медведи
 

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