As he walks through pine trees and piles of last years leaves that crunch beneath his paws, his neck is bent to the forest floor to pick up aromas of harm and cultivation. The bear can smell sweet nutrients in the soft Earth. He notices the birds perched in the Douglas Fir above him, and how the sun shines obliquely on the ripple of the pond he has found himself standing at the edge of. He submerges his paws into ankle deep water among mosquitos, flies and tadpoles. He makes his way to the other side, making paddling motions with his paws and scrunching his nose as the smell of oil invades his nostrils. The water changes shade from pure vibrant green to a dark lifeless grey. Hundreds of salmon lie motionless in the dense mucky water. He can still smell the poison as it mixes with the meat of fish beneath the oil slicked water. Once ashore, he sinks his claws into the muffled Earth in search of a meal. He finds nothing. Tears fill the bears round yellow eyes as he walks back through the forest. A hollow cry of melancholy, of desperation, forms in the back of his throat. His cry rings through the forest but no one answers, nor initiates conversation.
As her workers buzz faithfully about their tasks, collecting pollen and nectar, the queen bee sits at her throne, beetle black eyes fixed on the strict hierarchy of fellow bees before her. With three quick buzzes followed by one long one (much like Morse code) her second in command tells her of a bee known among friends as Honey Bumble, who was last seen collecting nutrients from an Allium flower, and working his way patiently along the pungent purple flowers. The juxtaposition of the colossal blue sky against the flower, and wings that flapped too fast for the eye to see; the way Honey Bumble’s black eyes stayed fixed ahead of him as he worked hard to impress his Queen Bee; this beauty escaped the landscaper who came by with his leaf blower and blew Honey Bumble away in a swirl that was far too strong for his wings to fight. Back at the hive, wings were hung in mourning with an Allium pedal placed beside.
Everywhere he walks – through the forest, to the roadside, or the beach to dip his paws in the cold, salty west coast water – life permeates through his pink flesh and brown fur, a life separate from his own. He manages to hunt breakfast most mornings. After enjoying a particularly divine Chinook salmon, its insides laid out over the soil, thick rays of sunlight warming its fresh blood – the way the bear likes it best – he notices his stomach beginning to rumble. The fish he can still tastes on his chops was a female, a mistake he was usually careful to avoid making for just this reason: he killed hundreds upon hundreds of eggs just to satisfy his own selfish needs. He looks up to the early morning sky that still shines faintly with stars, and then back down to the ground. He begins to cry for the lives he has taken before they have even began. He doesn’t eat again for three days and three nights. On the third morning, he notices these tiny pink eggs on the ground beside a tree where he has just relieved himself; how they seep into the fresh wet soil, and make the trees that dance a slow waltz grow faster, shine brighter. His mistake contributes to the continuous circle of life. As he sits on a hillside and watches the sunrise behind trees that bloom with flowers, and fresh fruit, he wonders what form he will take on next when his time as a bear is done.