Polar Bear, a distant mirage in the stars and clouds, strong nobel protector in those magic hours of bedtime stories, books, documentaries, legends. Slow luel of winter gazing, snow pouncing cubs, little tummies. I look down at the pink nose on a ballerina bear I just bought for my niece on her first Christmas. I touch the bleached, manufactured fur, then the dainty lace to-to around the belly, so much joy, such fun in the beady eyes of the princess bear.
But there is a fading light, a low weight pulling my heart down for the real life of the bear- out there. Struggling right now and desperate to survive, to feed her young, to brave the waters, to face the ever changing world without the security of traditions, protection, or habitat. Vast ice sheets, arctic winds. Large padded footprints in the snow shoveling out holes, sniffing, swimming, all to just try and eat.
Miles across frozen lands, now those paws a lifeboat paddling endlessly through broken unstable ice sheets separating as fast as the soap bubbles in my kitchen sink. The white snout black nose struggles to stay above water. Like all the years before, she paddles in anticipation, the ice will be there, it is there, but it is not. There is no icy white ridge. Deep, hopeful eyes search the top blue waters, the black waters, where the ripple is quiet, and the distance between life and death are the same in each moment, each stride, each breath.
I take my time scrubbing the dishes, feeling the hot water run cold over my hands. I lift the drain, watch the water swirl down. The Polar Bear. The great white hero of imaginations, the dreamy wishes and moon dances sink down into icy depths of the unknown. Exhaustion pulls her down without ever knowing why great civilizations sentence her to such a death. The search dims in her eyes, the muscles stop. Her snout points higher to the sky in a great outward surge of air, and spit, and water. Legs fail and the innocent symbol of strength fades deep into the dark sea. The nose goes under, white fur sinks into the abyss, dead, cold beneath the light fading up, and gone.
I go to wrap the stuffed polar bear in pretty paper and think of my nieces gurgles, laughs, and smiles when she holds the little bear to her face. Her innocence like the polar bear cubs starting to find their place in the world with a gentle tumble down snow embankments and across the worn out terrain, trying to survive in the world with so much against them. I hope my niece won’t have to fight for her rights to survive, for air, for food, for land, or feel sunk, drowned by the lack of caring hearts in the world. I hope someday my niece will be able to see one of the giant legendary Polar Bears in the wild- and smile a grateful smile.