Polar Bear in the Grocery Store

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.

Artwork by Jane Whitten. "Pack Ice" shows plastic blister packs crocheted together with fishing line

Pack Ice by Jane Whitten. Crocheted fishing line and blister packs.

About Jade Wallace

Jade Wallace is a writer from the Niagara Fruit Belt, currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Windsor. Their poetry, fiction, and essays have been published internationally, including in Studies in Social Justice, Phenomenal Literature, and The Stocklholm Review of Literature. Their most recent chapbook is Test Centre (ZED Press 2019), co-authored with Mark Laliberte under the name MA|DE. They are an organizing member of Draft Reading Series and one half of The Leafy Greens, a band whose music has been incorrectly described as "psychedelic stoner metal."

About Jane Whitten

For the past twenty plus years Jane Whitten has been an experimental basket maker, knitter, crocheter, stitcher and general tinkerer. She gathers urban flotsam and jetsam and explore ways of reusing these materials to create forms and vessels. She works on the premise that if she has enough of something she just has to figure out what the material brings to the table and what she needs to add to create the desired form. Her work is determined by what she’s been able to hunt and gather. Though amount and variety of garbage always horrifies her, she has to reign herself in and be selective in what she collects and uses. She relishes in the treasure hunt. Underlying her experimentation with materials, techniques, and structures, is her passion and concern for the environment. She has recently retired and returned to the east coast of Canada after living and working in inland Australia for over a decade. Reconnecting with the ocean environment and reconfirming her understanding of its fragility has been a powerful experience and one that has inspired her. Whitten has exhibited in group and solo shows in Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia. She was nominated for the Canada Council’s 2001 Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Fine Craft and has won numerous awards for creations. Her work is in public and private collections nationally and internationally.

One thought on “Polar Bear in the Grocery Store

  1. Donna Langevin

    “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.


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