Thursday, 6 September 2012

Until lions have their historians...

...tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.

So goes the African proverb.  Teddy bears have largely passed me by. I had a few but never felt particularly attached to them.  I prefer the preserved creatures at the natural history museums to the stuffed versions in toy shops.  There's an endless fascination for me in being able to get really close to an animal which is elusive or, you know, a bit bitey.

Sadly, I think that most of the exhibits at the museums have been hunted and killed and then sold for display. I reckon there's got to be more skill involved in following an animal, respectfully, until it dies and then grabbing its corpse and stuffing it.  Now that's a sport that takes commitment.

The story of the teddy bear is a cruel and sad one.  Children all over the world are snuggling up to a replica of a bear that was tortured for the sake of saving face.  Its death served no purpose other than to aid a politician's career and make a lot of money for some toy manufacturers.  I understand that children and adults gain pleasure from the soft toys which is separate to the bears' origins but I'd prefer the story to be permanently attached to the bears.  Take the kids to a museum and explain that these animals were shot so that they can see them up close.  Then take them to the zoo and explain that these animals were removed from their family and habitat so that they can see them up close.  Then give them a teddy bear and explain that the original 'Teddy's Bear' was beaten and shot so that a politician could look good in a competition.

But perhaps you don't think it's pleasant to tell those things to children?  Well in that case, perhaps it would be better if those stories weren't there to be told...

Teddy's Bear

Cedar scented dust coats a muzzle that's lifted
catches the song of season's birth
drinks the mead from the belly of a fat
wax flagon which writhes between her soft pads
cloud of furies, angry mopeds, find no target
count their losses

Sister Bear pierces woodland's walls
sharpens wits on bark
bites twigs to pulp, gets high on sap
then walks a path her mother made
marks the spot where her brother fought
rubs her spine against a granite knuckle
rests in a dark place

Cedar club connects with the base of her skull
stunned, she struggles to raise her great bulk
coarse rope tightens around her throat
claws grasping at crumbling earth
she's thrashing over roots and stones
a blow to the snout, blood and teeth
grunts and grief

Bound to the willow as a man shakes his head
her death a shabby gift
good sport or no sport
as the gun is loaded she lifts her muzzle
tastes the song of season's birth on the wind.



Ashley R Lister said...

I should have known you'd take a pragmatic approach to this subject :-)

Great post,