Der Bär by Katherine Hollander

When you were a child
you were just like a child
with a dark curious face
and a hood and coat
of silken fur. You walked
on two legs, on stout soft feet
and cried for your supper.
You drank milk from a cup
and broke the golden comb
of honey in your paws. Little one,
badge of the beloved city. When
you were a man, you lay by the fire
sad and sick. The maidens
combed your fur. Poor enchanted
thing: how you longed to shrug out
of the hot, heavy skin,
show them your real self:
the pale prince’s body,
its lean haunches and elegant
feet, the thousand expressions
of its naked face, the cock
no longer laughable,
the pink tongue, mobile
and strange; no longer mute.


Katherine Hollander‘s poems have appeared in Hunger Mountain, Literary Imagination, the Sugar House Review, and elsewhere. A PhD candidate in modern European history at Boston University, from which she also holds an MA in poetry, she has also written literary reviews and a libretto. She has enjoyed a residency at the Vermont Studio Center and once spent a summer living in Bertolt Brecht’s house in southern Denmark.