Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wilhelmina The Performing Bear

Wilhelmina the performing bear
savagely mauls the little bicycle she is trained to ride.
It wasn't the bars
nor the gawking yokels that made her snap--
it was the memory of the scent of pine needles,
and of two round black faces following trustfully behind her.

Where are they now?
Either one?
And so the bicycle pays.

But, unexpectedly,
it pleads for its life,
saying, "I am only a conveyance,
a tool;
and though I am a tool of the same captors who misuse us both,
though I was born at their hands and at their whim,
I am not them."

Wilhelmina drops the talking bike from her jaws and blinks.
"What are you, then?"

"I am a bicycle. Nothing more."

That night, Wilhelmina dreams she is back in the pine forest.
She raises her great nose to the air and there it is--
She turns like a locomotive in a roundhouse to warn her cubs,
but her cubs are bicycles,
and they rise, riderless, into the trees.

In the morning,
the keeper comes.
He was once a fairly successful wildlife photographer,
whose shots of snow leopards once graced the face and bones
of a famous national magazine.
drinking and sloth have brought him here,
to Wilhelmina's cage.

"You've done for your bike, have you, you canny bitch?"
He bends to pick it up by its handlebars,
and that is when he becomes the conveyance,
ridden by 400 pounds of maternal fury.

"Thank you," says the bicycle, touched and grateful.
Wilhelmina remembers, now, what it is to kill,
and she is filled with strong and conflicting memories,
and emotions
which she cannot properly articulate.

After all,
she is only Wilhelmina,
a performing

I first wrote about the keeper HERE. So many people wanted him to get his, that I brought him back to be bear chow. For the record, wild animals being made to perform bothers me.


TexWisGirl said...

a big amen to that!

HermanTurnip said...

That was awesome and apropos.

Margaret said...

Mama Bear just had it! This really yanked at my heartstrings.

Anonymous said...

Sweet Karma :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

So glad he got what was coming to him. Score one Mama Bear.
Performing animals keep me awake at night. Zoos in defunct countries feel like screwdrivers in my solar plexus. The way people continue to mistreat animals in a time when there is no excuse not to know better is one of the reasons I have no faith in humanity.

Yikes.. your poem made me want to savage a bicycle too.

nene said...

I'm staring at the same bicycle rack, Kerry.

Animals just want to coexist in the same abode gifted to us to share. Ignorance was once understandable by now our choice to be uncaring will 'come around' if it's not already beginning to manifest itself

Great piece, Fireblossom

Sioux said...

"ridden by 400 of maternal fury" is such a wonderful line.

Shay, the way this poem built momentum was incredible. THIS is my favorite poem of yours (about performing bears).

I have not gone to the circus in decades. If a circus came to town that only had performing people, I would gladly go. But having to watch elephants and tigers and bears perform? Way too horrendous and heart-breaking for me.

You disturbed me this morning, Shay. You disturbed me with your lines, your images. ;)

Now you need the finale--a third piece to make this a trilogy. The keeper got what HE deserved. How 'bout writing a poem and letting Wilhelmina getting what SHE deserves?

Mama Zen said...

This is remarkable writing, Shay.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I was thinking the same thing as Sioux - how I would love for Wilhelmina to be set free in the piney woods again. Not that that would ever happen in real life. A sad story, Shay. Tugged at my heart when she thought about the pine needles and the two round faces following her. Performing and caged animals bothers me too. Big-time.

Mary Jane Bane said...

I can only read your poetry like every other day, nothing else in my current life brings up such emotion. I'm a broken record, I know it but I have to say it...your poetry breaks open my heart. Your actual presence would have me at your feet. Beautiful. Stirring. Brought tears to my eyes. love it

Grandmother said...

I think you made that really clear (what you thought of animal performers). And in such a compelling manner. You write in such a way that we cheer for the bear.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, and I thought Mama Bear was a symbolic representation of a woman performing cartwheel and culinary tricks in the kitchen while she'd rather be writing poetry ... or doing whatever else feels natural or "wild."

Fireblossom said...

Nope, Shawna, not this time. This time, a bear is just a bear. ;-)