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Encourage The Bears


The Sunday Whirl, #115 Below, my attempt at using all these words, though this turned more storyish rather than poem-shaped.

Next life, I’ll move to a wild island in the sea. This when regrets and bridges in cinders are so thick on the ground that I can’t sweep them up or move through them for one more day. The weight of them, once like piles of fallen leaves or heavy snow become heavier and unstable, a loose scrill of rocks, shale that flakes and cracks, crumbles at every step. Moving cautiously has got me exactly here.

So then, the island. It is difficult to find. In truth, I bent reality, curved the oceans oh so slightly, just enough to make it a challenge. The birds, of course, have no trouble finding it by the scent of green and the whisper of insects. There are bears. Or, at least, a bear. And a sign.

One country lane meanders across the island, linking beach to meadow. I live at one end, the beach end, to get the spectacular view. The bear lives at the other end of the lane, in thick woods beyond the edge of the meadow.

I hear him sometimes, snuffling along through the woods, hunting the wild raspberries we both crave, both the taste and the shape of the word. When he stands at the edge of the wood—Seven feet tall? Nine feet? Who can tell? Who would dare measure? When he stands so tall, it’s hard to follow the directions on the sign I found posted at the edge of the meadow. This small wooden sign says, in careful block letters: Encourage The Bears.

When he’s eating flowers in the meadow, down on all fours, or picking at the berry bushes delicately, his paws careful as hands, and his fur shines so soft and warm in the sunlight, well it’s easier to imagine then, and I shout Positive Messages to him: Looking Good! Nice Fur! Excellent Berry Foraging!

That kind of thing.

The bear, he’s gone with me everywhere in this life. Is he Fate? Chaos? Or just a lost bear, dragged here to keep me company, to fit inside my head, my stories? Maybe, in the beginning, his whole existence was so I’d never heed, or even find, the piece of sign fallen long ago into the tall grass, disintegrated. The part of the sign that said “Don’t”.

In any case, story contrivance or accident, he’s here and real as teeth now.

2 responses »

  1. In Jungian psychology, the bear can represent the unconscious. I really like reading your piece with that in mind. This is a strong piece. I’ve bookmarked it and will read it again…..something about bears. 🙂 I love them in stories, but am scared to death when I see one in the mountains. SCARED TO DEATH. My fear keeps me home from backpacking trips in grizzly country. Sigh. Glad you found us at the Whirl!!

    • Brenda–I know! What the heck is it about bears?!

      How do we carry around in one basket the images of beautiful wildness, ferocious attacks (I can’t even read these. Too horrifying!), cuddly stuffed animals and the cozy bears of childhood stories–I’m thinking of Blueberries For Sal, and Little Bear, and (of course) Pooh.

      Again, thank you for providing the prompt AND for your kind and thought-filled comments. Both are deeply appreciated.


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