University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 51, Number 3 (Summer 2005)

Poetry,   pp. 22-28


Page 23

noetrv 
Bearbait 
"Never feed your baby on the trail. Grizzlies are attracted to 
the smell of milk." 
-Ranger to hiker, Yellowstone Park 
She calmly shuts her breasts away in the serape 
but privately scours the wood for boulder shoulders, 
listens for an ursine fat bass bawling her name. 
In the mother's nose the beemouth of her baby 
still runs white honey, 
blooms violently 
with a perilous death-pot spoor. 
Cold-faced, the ranger moves her like a heavy icon 
down the trail, grave with the weight of her important scent: 
reliquary, and house of delicious things. 
They both feel the heat of the burning bear 
red on their backs. The ranger thinks 
how a single drop of milk 
in the footprint of this madonna 
and the bear he hears in the wood 
could stand and see and smell her clearly 
and run her down like a train 
as images slam through his hot mammal head: 
rose of the world, milkspring, and pet of meat. 
by Margaret Benbow 
Margaret Benbow is the only UW alum to have won the George 
B. Hill Award for poetry four times as an undergraduate. Since 
then her poems have won many prizes and appeared in 
numerous magazines and anthologies. Benbow's full-length 
collection Stalking Joy won the Walt McDonald First Book 
Award and was published by TTUP Press. She has now 
completed a second collection, Believing Your Eyes. She also 
writes short stories and was awarded a Wisconsin Arts Board 
grant for fiction in 2003. Benbow's story "Egyptian" appears in
the new short fiction anthology Barnstorm (University of 
Wisconsin Press). Her short story, "Prizes, " appears on page 48.
History Lesson 
There is so much here unclear, 
in this chutney colored tub, 
in this mildewed room, 
in this drab hotel by an orphanage 
one day away by air. 
There is so much here unseen, 
as the tub fills, 
as the sun knocks the door, 
as I undress your small body rigid and pulling; 
the downy wing of hair between your shoulders, 
the uncut penis, 
the contrast of your caramel skin 
against raw butter and pink, 
the Mongolian Spot across your buttocks 
so like a bruise I cry out, 
the wilderness crawling from my throat. 
I will never know what came before 
this day. 
I could spend a lifetime of guess 
and pray you never do. 
But for now the tub is full, 
the air is sticky sweet, 
the bubbles rise like birds, 
your brown sugar body trembles 
as my arms reach to mother and still, 
as my lips yearn to kiss you clean 
here and here 
this first moment, my new son, 
all we will know for sure. 
by Cathryn Cofell 
Cathryn Cofell, of Appleton, has been published 
frequently in such places as Prairie Schooner, 
Laurel Review, Phoebe, and Rattle. She is the 
author of three books, most recently Roadkill, 
published by the Neville Public Museum in 2003. She 
currently chairs the Wisconsin Poet Laureate 
Commission and is the recipient of several awards, 
including the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts 
and Letters' Outstanding Poem Award for two 
consecutive years (an award that has since been 
succeeded by this contest). 
WISCONSIN  ACADEMY  REVIEW  SUMMER  2005  23 


Go up to Top of Page