Ursa Major the Great Bear

When the great malls close
and shoppers go home
and lights inside grow dim,

the shadows of what used to roam here
roam here again. They pad
through the flora of vast parking lots

(candy bar wrappers, cigarette butts,
lumbering bags in the wind …) and slip
toward the long buildings like drifting exhaust.

A security guard stops his car.
Westerlies cry through the power lines

as the complex shapes of human dreams
reduce to the shape of their cities.

The guard checks a window, touches his gun,
rubs a paw mark out on the Plexiglas.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Ursa Major the Great Bear”?

A drive through the sterility and concrete of a mall parking lot led me to imagine what was once there.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Ursa Major the Great Bear”?

I started with the tradition of the sonnet, and then incorporated my own variations.

This poem “Ursa Major the Great Bear” originally appeared in Nature / Culture. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 170-171 (Autumn/Winter 2001): 87.

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