Polar bear as the ice melts

So, maybe I’m the bear,
and the fear I see is my fear,
and the bewilderment is mine.,

as if I’m swimming hard
in a dissolving world, where all
those age-old certainties are melting –

that the world is ours,
that I am good,
that this place is bountiful,
and beautiful, and bottomless.

Maybe we’re all the bear,
realising that our home is shrinking
to a small space that can’t support
our weight, can’t feed us,
but we can’t step on
without disaster,

and the world is screaming.

The truth is that
the bear is the bear.
She swims on. I don’t know
if she feels hope, or fear,
and I can’t claim her
as a metaphor. She’s flesh and blood
and bones protruding,
she’s hungry
and the ice is melting.

Sherry Marr is hosting atEarthweal,and asks us to think about the animals affected by climate change.

19 thoughts on “Polar bear as the ice melts

  1. Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh, Sarah, you make me FEEL that bear, trying to find somewhere to stand in a dissolving world. I love this poem, which goes straight to my heart. Just wonderfully felt, and written. Thank you. The bear is hungry, exhausted, and the ice is melting, for sure.

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  2. An apex predator on a vanished berg — already we are in a realm which defies the anthropomorphic sympathies of Galway Kinnell’s “The Bear.” And indeed, the poem tries on several selves — as the bear, then we as bear, arriving at bear as bear and how she fares starving and shrinking away as the Arctic does the same. Who needs metaphors to see, when the naked fact is writ so painfully clear for all. But our human gaze has to be trained, away from all that seduces and dazzles and straight and simply there, with the last bear on the last floe floating off into the dark. Thanks for this addition to Sherry’s bestiary of the week.

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  3. I love this poem too Sarah and it tugs at my heart – a beautiful heartfelt write of the plight of the bear and of us all.
    After reading Brendan’s comment I read Kinnell’s poem and this too left me immensely sad.
    Anna :o]

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  4. This is so profound! An excellent poem. Yes, the bear is the bear. But we are the bear as well. Sometimes I think the ice is melting for all of us……for civilization.

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  5. Radical empathy shines through your poem, which feels into the bears’ losses, but refuses to leave them in allegory, refuses us an easy way out. The sacrifice of other species first only delays our own demise. Better we should act like family members and help rebuild their homes. This might help us rebuild ours–or not. Poetic justice has been known to take its toll.

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  7. It is indeed a dissolving world. All the certainties as well as all the values are melting. Your poem is so visual! The bear’s truth is our reality too. All that is need is an awareness—worldwide. Just yesterday some one posted a gory video of seal-killing. Humans are more grisly than they were in the primitive times. Sigh.

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  8. I really feel that we should feel her pain as ours, but it’s hard to really do it.
    and what happens to her will happen to us as well… the only question is if it will be a pandemic flu, starvation or succumbing in thirst.

    We are the bear.

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  9. Pingback: Promote Yourself Monday at the Go Dog Go Cafe, January 27, 2020 – Compiled and Updated | Fullbeard Lit

  10. Your final two lines are the summation of a tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Through the eyes of a bear….would that we could be as wise.

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