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The Bear’s Descent from Mt. Kimbrell

The wind from the west raps its fists against his side, the fulcrum of rock
            insistent, pressing the balls of his feet—

but the air’s too thin to tip the balance. Each step follows the one before,
            habit as much as purpose dictating the route down.

Those cowered at altitude resent his intrusion; they chitter in clueless bursts
            like scree sliding, never hunted as he has been.

The bell hung from his ear swirls silver, lulling, a sound pure and dishonest
            as creek water disguising its work. He comes

from all directions at once, a rumor suddenly arrived, stamping the stone
            to dust, peeling the bark from the bristlecones;

befalls, remorseless as rockslide. Marmots scatter, a fox— red tail switching,
            black nose bobbing with rebuttal—

delineates the ways in which the bear has betrayed the mountain, recites
            the genera of flora trampled underfoot.

We should have met, the bear says, when beauty of that kind swayed me.
            Before these crows hopping one-footed cairn to cairn,

and mule ears flopped to deafness and drought. The fox bites the air
            in toothless pantomime, mouth empty and belly slack.

As they descend the bell purls, the fox’s extravagant tail sweeps their tracks
            to nonsense; at treeline the bear asks

what the point of its prettiness might be. To elevate the mind, the fox avers.
            And with a snap is disabused of that too.





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Jeff Ewing

Jeff Ewing's poems can be found in literary journals including ZYZZYVA, Sugar House Review, Saint Ann’s Review, Willow Springs, Tule Review, and Catamaran Literary Reader. He is the author of the short story collection The Middle Ground, forthcoming in February 2019 from Into the Void Press. His fiction has been published in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including Crazyhorse, Southwest Review, Into the Void, Cold Mountain Review, and SAND. A number of Jeff’s essays and nonfiction pieces have been featured in the Sacramento News & Review, including "A Ditch Runs Through It", which was reprinted in Utne Reader. He grew up in Sacramento, and lives there still with his wife and daughter.