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The Moon Speaks of Polar Bears

by Hailey Leithauser

Some things are better defined
by what they are not,
as when snow heaping the world

replaces the world, becoming
no longer a rooftop, no longer a narrow
gravel shoreline or road,

even in times, in places,
no longer the black breathing
of the sea.

In this way the polar bear
stealing her difficult, beautiful life
from the ridges

and drifts, the colorless
plateau around her,
teaches her young to hunt

by sliding her belly
flat along the frozen light,
blunting her cloudlike

respiration, covering
with one comic paw
the dark flesh of her nose,           
so well suited to her artifice
that the oily 
seals collecting the ice

are pulled by an intimate
landscape, soundless
and ravenous and white.


Hailey Leithauser has recent or upcoming poems in The Cincinnati Review, The Iowa Review, Passages North, Poetry, and The Best American Poetry 2010. (3/2010)

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