In the distance we see what appears to be floating sea-ice,
calved from ragged ice-edge, only it’s rounded, tensile, mammalian—
Hollow points of light emanating from softly echoing,
transparent follicles; then a broad back surfaces, inanimate—
“Oh my god, it’s a bear!” someone shouts, pointing
to a floating carcass now seen clearly: not sea-ice,
but sea-bear—Urus maritimus—dead-man’s floating
miles and miles from the nearest shore,
face staring deep beneath the surface, massive front paws
spent from stretching, from reaching for ice-edge,
exhausted from swimming panicky circles,
finding only heavy arctic seawater, viscous oil, adrenaline ooze.
Think of a fight-weary heavyweight, no longer at the top of his game,
up against a nimble, invisible opponent, now down for the count.
—Scott Edward Anderson, from Fallow Field: Poems
Used by permission of the poet. Aldrich Press, 2013