If you pack no meat, no perfume,
hang bells and heal all wounds,
there is a chance the grizzly
will let you sleep
in his territory.
It is brilliant there, amethyst
and turquoise siltstone,
sunset the colors
of a salmon's belly
grey around the edge.
The climb will make your eyes throb.
You will crave candles and whiskey,
but in the dark you cannot see
the shredded logs, the scat
of orange berries,
only glaciers drifting closer
by inches, blue-white water scalloped
like moth wings.
Grizzlies walk the trail in green moonlight.
It's smoother, more silent. Dream-white
antelope float across your clearing,
tasting, marking footrocks.
The mountains by sunrise become a silver cradle.
You may sleep a few hours before departing.
Spiraling down with thirty pounds of tin and feathers
on your back, part of you will want
to remain. But as you cross the timberline
you'll see again mossy trees and strawberry blossoms.
The glasslike fungus whose poison
you could not name
will look delicious.
Sandra Alcosser, A Fish to Feed All Hunger, Ahsahta Press, 1986.