There's a Polar Bear
In our Frigidaire--
He likes it 'cause it's cold in there.
With his seat in the meat
And his face in the fish
And his big hairy paws
In the buttery dish,
He's nibbling the noodles,
He's munching the rice,
He's slurping the soda,
He's licking the ice.
And he lets out a roar
If you open the door.
And it gives me a scare
To know he's in there--
That Polary Bear
In our Fridgitydaire.
* * *
Funny - that sounds a little like me these days.
Also interesting to me, that I've been connecting with a few folks who are intrigued with bears like I am. When in Alaska this past summer, I didn't get to see any bears. I was always on the wrong tour, or having to leave port at the wrong time. We went on the Denali Wilderness tour, and saw 2 1/2 moose. The people who took the Tundra tour (8+ hours) saw 5 grizzlies. The guy I met in an art shop in Skagway told me that if we had time, he'd take us to a place ten miles out where two brother bears are seen regularly, fishing in the river. I settled for a ranger talk, back at the lodge, and a photo of a stuffed bear.
A few years ago, I was told that I have been a Native American woman in two past lives, one of those lives as a shaman wearing the skin of a bear. This came after I'd spent the morning working out in my journal musing on the possibilities of trading skins with the bear. Imagine my surprise when hearing the news, especially coming from someone who had no idea about my private writing/ideas. . .
The bear comes and goes from my life. Sometimes I am far away, and other times I'm in it's skin. Sometimes it comes and takes apples. Sometimes it breaks the tree. And once in awhile, it teaches its cubs how to forage from our worm bin and blackberry vines.
Sometimes I am blessed with a brief glimpse. Taken, and wanting a better look, I stumble through the dark, downstairs, where I kick and chair (it is a moonless night), and three bears take off like shots before I can look out the nearest window. Is there a message to be learned from this? Is this how spirituality works?
One summer DH was backpacking on his own up the trail. At one point he had to step off to the side, to let 13 bears rumble down trail, past him. And like shooting stars, someone can say "I just saw a bear back there, in the trees by that other campsite," and I go looking only find nothing but the space left behind. Is this how faith works?
So, I'm going to bed now, remembering one New Year's Eve, when that mother and two cubs raided the compost, and I scared them off stubbing my toe loudly in the dark kitchen. And what do I want for Christmas? To see a bear up close - well, maybe not *too* close - maybe just through the window like the big coyote last spring in our yard - but maybe that's asking too much.
This poem was in Blackbird awhile back:
Woman goes out into damp December
dish pan in hand,
offers water to the slumbering
blackberry vines. She slaps the pan,
imagines the bear,
come round two mornings before,
wrought iron pole of the bird house bowed
nearly double. She conjures
the great black shape,
belly full of suet, chickadee
feeder broken at his feet, perches
neatly removed, plastic tube pierced
by the tooth of his hunger. She’s seen
where he hunkers, straw of dying
grass flattened in the woods
behind her home, nocturnal swath
carved wide with his wanderings.
She wants to catch him at his vandalisms,
wonders if she were to yield
her last basket of apples—
mealy, sweet—if giving brings more
than a bearish appetite.
In this slim, growing bleak
and darker time, she greets
a star swelling with secrets, a body
pressing on through darkness.