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The bear on the Delhi road

Unreal, tall as a myth,


by the road the Himalayan bear


is beating the brilliant air


with his crooked arms.


About him two men, bare,


spindly as locusts, leap.


One pulls on a ring


in the great soft nose; his mate


flicks, flicks with a stick


up at the rolling eyes.



They have not led him here,


down from the fabulous hills


to this bald alien plain


and the clamorous world, to kill


but simply to teach him to dance.



They are peaceful both, these spare


men of Kashmir, and the bear


alive is their living, too.


If, far on the Delhi way,


around him galvanic they dance,


it is merely to wear, wear


from his shaggy body the tranced


wish forever to stay


only an ambling bear


four-footed in berries.



It is no more joyous for them


in this hot dust to prance


out of reach of the praying claws


sharpened to paw for ants


in the shadow of deodars.


It is not easy to free


myth from reality


or rear this fellow up


to lurch, lurch with them


in the tranced dancing of men.

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012