by Jennifer Crow

His nature in me:
before the cloak of white fur
before the taste for raw flesh
and the thickening of my nails
and the sharpening sense of smell,
I kept close in winter
and let the cold months peel away
the accumulated fat of my life.
Placid until provoked, territorial,
fond of sweets, I prowled
in the twilight hours, soft padding
among the pines, through the wild berries.

Putting on the bear
was like going home:
something in my bones
knew his secrets -- he left his mark
on me as surely as I leave mine --
long claw marks
deep in the heart of my forest.

Jennifer Crow believes in ghosts, but even more in the way the past haunts the present. Autumn is her favorite time of year, when spirits drift like woodsmoke among the changing trees, and grief tinges the scents in the air. You can find links to more of her work at her blog, and some of her short fiction will soon be available in the Ruins: Extraterrestrial, Sporty Spec, and Ages of Wonder anthologies.

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