Photo: (c) Creative Commons (modified)
I had few stuffed animals as a child. One was
a soft white bear. I loved him. He comforted.
He was given to me when I was in the hospital,
when people thought I was dying.
I outlived that bear.
It was a hot summer’s day, when I saw one at the zoo,
in a concrete cage with an algaed-concrete pool that
he paced the edges of, swinging his big head
back and forth as if he was saying “No” and
again, “No”, continuously, “No”, to his circumstances.
Our eyes never met. If they had, I don’t think
I could have found his soul in there.
I was a young girl then. I think his soul found mine,
and haunts me still. He paces at the edge of my dreams.
We are all built for something.
The white bear: mastery of the desolate, of
intimacy with place, of the interface of stark
beauty and harsh realities.
Me, woman now: telling stories about the
silences that must be heard, by many.
I don’t know where our relationship is going,
the white bear and me. Increasingly, our lives are
Melting, fracturing ice flows and stories that don’t
fit together as well as they used to. Reconstruction
isn’t always possible. What happens when we
can no longer trek long, formidable landscapes
under paw or in the imagination?
Do we die?
I want to say “No!” to these circumstances.
We have to keep a place in this world for
things that find no comfort in our company,
but remind us that we long to know of them.
I want the white bear to outlive me.
© 2018/Jamie K. Reaser
For the Arctic Biodiversity Congress 2018
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