Another Bear Story
(from Inventing the Hawk)
The bear walks out of the trees with a story. Each one (the bear and the story) bigger than the one before. This time it is night. There is a woman and a small house floating on the snow like a covered sled abandoned by two Percherons who are part of another tale. The woman hears a noise and opens the door, expecting what? Usually it is a man who has walked for miles across the snow as if he’s been trudging through a nineteenth-century Russian novel and deserves to be here at the end; a man with a brass cornet covered in frost or a bouquet of roses brittle as glass or a need so large it will lift her off her feet and into the future he has planned. This time there is no man at the door. She opens it and sees nothing. She opens the door and sees nothing but blackness, not even a star, not even the outline of a tree, just the black at the bottom of wells, the black of caves, the black of a scavenger crow that goes for the eyes. She closes the door. The woman who reads the sky knows this is a night full of stars and northern lights, the snowflakes on the ground flickering like fireflies. She opens the door. Utter darkness. But the darkness seems to move, it moves in and out like an animal breathing, like the chest and belly of a grizzly bear. She closes the door. Gently. Now several things could happen. She could grab the gun leaning against the wall and fire into the door, shattering the wood and what is beyond it, but no one would be surprised if she didn’t, if the gun wasn’t loaded or wasn’t there where you’d expect it to be. No one would be surprised to find her crouched in a corner, growing smaller and smaller as she waits once again for the man to come. But this is the bear’s story. He never once conjured a gun or a man. He waits for the woman to open the door and embrace the dark. She does more than that. She opens the door and steps right inside his belly, walks into him as if he were the night, becomes part of the story he has carried from the trees, from the cave where he lay sleeping, from his huge and fabulous head.
About the writer:
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, her teaching and her mentoring with five honourary doctorates, most recently from McGill and Simon Fraser Universities. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. The Globe and Mail declared The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things one of its Top 100 Books of the Year, and Amazon chose her memoir as one of the 100 books you should read in your lifetime. A Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, she has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and has read her poetry, which has been translated into several languages, on every continent except Antarctica. Her latest books are The Wrong Cat and The Wild in You, a collaboration with photographer Ian McAllister. She lives on Vancouver Island with writer Patrick Lane and two cats who love to garden. For more information, see here.
Inventing the Hawk by Lorna Crozier Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1992. 140pp, paper, $12.99, ISBN 0-7710-2477-0. CIP
Image: “Exodus, Untitled Movement” (in French, “Exode, Mouvement sans-titre”) by Olivier Fonteau, Martinique.
@olivierfonteau.art on IG