Bears in Tahoe

I walk beside blue water, edged with foam,
waves lapping on a shore necklaced with pines,
lined with wood cabins, boats with coloured sails.
The thin clear air has scents of wooded smoke,
and all around, the snow topped mountains rise
above the lake gleaming with golden haze.

The track winds downwards to a white sand beach,
beside the path there stands a yellow bin
bearing a metal plaque whose message is
‘Beware of Bears' then a more detailed warning,
that bears come downtown from the hills to forage
In litter bins outside hotels and homes.

What are they like, these hungry bears, I wondered,
are they cuddly and brown, like toy's for Christmas,
or Polar bears strayed far from frozen wastes,
even perhaps a long toothed grizzly, huge,
with dangerous claws and angry snarling mouth.
What would I say to a bear if I met one
on a Saturday morning in the High Street?
Do I say ‘Hello Mr. Bear!' while offering
a chunk of ciabetta saved from brunch?

Or would he fling his furry arms around me,
holding me tightly in a warm embrace,
while I am hoping that, being a town bear
he will eventually let me go, his nose and eye
caught by a bin crammed full of tastier morsels.

Sometimes, in my dreams, I return to Tahoe
looking for the bears.


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