Polar Bear in the Grocery Store
One night, at the height of winter,
a polar bear swam the widening ocean that
drowned her mother. She paddled, heavy with
grief and her wet white coat.
Overhead, the snowless sky was dark
and the air was hot.
When she found land,
she was still without bearings,
carrying hunger inside her
like an empty vessel. The ground
stretched south before her,
an alien green expanse.
Bugs buzzed and tugged at her skin
as she walked past the strewn flesh of
silver foxes, the scattered carcasses of
caribou, and the bedraggled nameless bones.
She arrived, at last, at the nest of scavengers and
hung in the shadows, watching two-legged animals
guarding a stolen hoard. They stared, and they ate,
and made pitiless noise.
The bear lurked by the building
where they kept their food, the place where
light became heat and wood was the only
memory of trees. She waited for them to sleep.
In darkness, she broke in,
and crept through aisles seeking answers.
It took her only minutes
to cross to the far side of the store,
where she found the missing fish
and all of the ice.
“Polar Bear in the Grocery Store” by Jade Wallace is a heart-wrenching narrative poem rich in details, and beautifully crafted.
“Pack Ice” by Jane Whitten makes great use of urban flotsam and jetsam. It is a chilling complement that drives home the narrative of this poem.