NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 18 Issue 1 - Winter 2018 - Page 14

Old Man Hears the Brain’s Howling Beast Prose Poem: A Bear in the Cedar Old man listens to the bells and his lifelong failures echoing through the brittle points in his bones. The years sit on his head as if chewing him away. The world of the illogical is a ghost in the hideaway of his imagination. His heart drums with ease at finding the imagination is the compass, the guide through the thousand and one fields he passed through in a lifetime. After dinner while sitting in my rocking chair gazing out the patio window at a red cedar, I caught something forming from a branch. Within five to ten seconds a creature settled on the branch the wind slowly blew from side to side. My eyes sang to the visitor: “Bear, you’re welcome.” The image soon changed to a bear mask and stared straight at me for a few seconds more, then faded. The mask was cedar with distinct carved planes with edges like the old ones of our ancestors. His muzzle pointed toward me and his open mouth shined like a passing moon. Dusk shifted to a grizzly bear face. He had a rough texture and approaching night revealed brownish-black hair. I saw the bear as a friend. Fear was as far away as the Salish Sea on our green rambling coast. I spun around in my head like a gyroscope; joy mirrored the moment for the two of us: brothers in a land of disappearances. I pulled my chair closer to the patio; the cedar branch swept back into focus as if no one had been there. The swinging branch shot my breath higher than the North Star. The cedar spoke as a carrier of a guardian who would take me beyond myself. The blue flow beyond signaled a mask that came from a time the forest rippled in our blood like a river of evergreens, stones, and salmon. The bear took me to an open field. His eyes possessed mine for the duration of his presence. The bear talked to me in his own way, at a silent space I may never comprehend but should value like our breath of life. The tree and Bear gave me a story to pass on to you. Time’s perfume sticks to his skin like the living and dead and newborn. No matter how fiercely he desires to dig his toes in the green earth and return to age seven like the red-tailed hawk with sun wingtips, he is stuck. The wind brushes against his face winter’s grinding stones, yet he breathes on and blinks his eyes like he was leftover computer keys. He senses he cannot run from the lies littering his stories with success and glory. When the cookie-cutter moon waves goodbye, the old man wonders if he will find his way home in the thud of a heartbeat.