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06 April 2007

Sebastian drops in

Sebastian_2And now, something from my writing teacher, the significant Sebastian Matthews, from his recent book of poetry, We Generous. It was the word "recognition" that got me, in many ways.


Bears have been following me around again.
I saw one the other day, across the road,

snuffling about in his Nature Center pen
up from the polluted river and in sight

of the public golf course. And just tonight
I caught this snippet of National Geographic

on television: a hunter describing how he shot
this young bear; he was crouching somewhere

in the field, face turned from the camera
as he told his story. The man spoke forthrightly

of seeing it coming, of knowing the bear
hadn’t spotted him, of making a decision:

if the bear walked into his area, he’d shoot;
if he drifted off, he’d let him go his way.

He came into my view, he said, and so
raised the gun. Then the bear turned to look

at me and I shot him. The hunter went on,
his speech slowing, faltering. With distinct sadness

the hunter described the bullet entering the bear,
exploding inside the animal. It wasn’t remorse

he choked on: he had done what he had set out
to do. No, I am sure it was recognition I saw

clouding his face. He went down quick, he said.
He didn’t know what hit him.

-Sebastian Matthews

Do we, any of us, really know what hit us?


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