July 15, 1982 Crested Butte, Colorado

Had the wind been from the hills or
softer; had she been singing still
and hadn’t forgotten, drifting into
to do lists, admonitions for to do lists;
had the blackberries grown elsewhere
that year; had there been hail or heat
and thus, a different pace; had her boots
been new; had the bear been alerted
by the cowbell she wore on her pack —
much later, she will laugh with one side
of her face; call it a conspiracy.
The bear startled; her face got in the way
of his fear. He didn’t chew her up
or stay; she hit the ground and he was gone
somewhere. She got in the way
of his assumptions, she will say, much later,
and squint her good eye. It wasn’t the claws
that almost did her in, she said,
it was his fright. She said she smelled it —
the fear resolving itself in someone
else’s body. It was like that logic problem,
if b then a, if afraid, somewhere pain must root.
The light hits the scars just so:
fear frozen like a bug in amber, cascading down her left cheek.
She didn’t fault the bear, she said.
His fear acted outside of who he was,
he had no choice in the matter.