Eliza and the Bear

by Eleanor Rees

Eliza and the Bear



I did not know my lover was a bear.

I’ve seen him bare. I’ve seen him leave his skin.

He roars. Bear-wet, grizzly —

shakes his head, crawls into bed,

places a bloody paw on my breast.


In the morning a paw mark on my skin.

It masks freckles, masks my nipple.


I did not know my lover was a bear.


I did not know he was on all fours all night

crawling the streets looking for the wilderness.


I did not know he wanted to go

back to woods and harsh brackish skies.


I did not know he wished to go. He never said,

Sweetheart, I am a bear, I am leaving now. I am going home.

The night is a blue green ocean I swim in.

He comes and sees me on certain nights,

other nights he wanders the woods.


O bite the light sweetheart ;  bite the edges. Be bear like.

I can see you being bare as you wander —

eyes like reservoirs gleaming at trees, at weather,

at colours that spin in your dreams.

When you see salmon,

the smell of fresh blood

glimmers in your mind’s eye.


I wait for you. I wait in our cave.

I wait in bed, coiled in sheets and red linen.


My hand touches the spaces you made before you left for the hills.

© Eleanor Rees, extract from 14 page poem ‘Eliza and the Bear’ (Salt, 2009)