Polar Bear

Wrote this poem in 2008 for the CBC Halifax Poetry Face Off. Seemed like a good time to post it.

Polar bear

The water’s cold
As a hammer head
It’s liquid nitrogen
and a needle at the dentist
It’s as cold as the church bells
That ring every Sunday
In the iron air
and squeeze the breath from me
like an accordian.

But it’s beautiful, in the dark
Milky, metallic
Heavy and soft
As snow that lulls
Lost travellers to sleep

I’m following the polar bear
Where there’s no more ice

He’s only ahead by a body’s length
His small head just above water,
Bony beneath the seal-sleek fur
He looks like a dog I knew
who almost died eating rat poison
in Shubie Park. After that,
the muscles in her head just
Dwindled to nothing.
You could see her skull,
Shining through.

This polar bear is a bone
Covered in fur

His body has eaten itself,
Like a seal,
Because the seals have

It’s foolish
But I want to put my arms around him,
devoured by guilt,
and carry him

His blood speaks to mine
Like this.
“Why are you here?”
Great paws churn the water beneath him.

My blood circles my organs
to keep them from freezing
And has no voice.

His head turns to look at me
Black rimmed mouth
A mile of fangs
His bloodshot eyes
See a seal.

He smiles
A doggy smile.

My heart, aching, aggrieved
I put my head in his mouth
I’m sorry, my blood chatters

The bear is melting
Like an iceberg
The great body under the water
And the small head.

I feel the warm glow
Of the sun, rosy, on my back

Cold escapes
Like the air from a balloon
My skin turns pink
And the water is on fire,

Dwindles to nothing.
And I walk in a desert
Littered with the bones
of walrus and seal,
whales and polar bears.

A white harvest
I build an igloo of skulls
And sit in their shadow
The sun looks through
Their eye holes at me,
”Why are you here?”
My blood asks
I’m sorry, the sun
The heat has the tail of
a scorpion,
the eyes of a dove.
And squeezes the breath
From me like a cobra.

2 thoughts on “Polar Bear

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s