Christine Valters Paintner

Christine Valters Paintner is an American poet living in Galway, Ireland and the author of twelve books of nonfiction and a collection of poems entitled Dreaming of Stones. Her poems have appeared in several journals in the U.S. and Ireland including Tales from the Forest, Crannog, Stinging Fly, The Blue Nib, Headstuff, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, Tiferet, Spiritus, Presence, and Anchor. You can find more of her writing and poetry at

St. Gall and the Bear

An Irish monk on a mission
saunters through Swiss forest,
when a bear charges him, fur bristles,
nostrils large and dark, the holy man
does not clench in fear, slowly
extends his hand, chunk of bread
in his palm, offers it to those
long-clawed paws which take it eagerly
into hungry jaws and lumbers off.

The bear returns that evening,
wood piled high in his brown arms
to build the monk a fire.
Together they sit for hours,
listen to night’s music,
count stars as they appear,
bask in warmth of embers
and new friendship.

When the great bear of your life
charges toward you, nourish it
with the bread of your kindness.
When it comes carrying kindling,
sit down together, see what is sparked
and what shapes dance in the flame.

© 2019 Christine Valters Paintner