The White Bear
When I discovered his tracks in the ice field they appeared to have no beginning and ended in pure black water.Without hesitation I knelt down and stared into the trembling deep.I saw him swim through darkness with immense and steady strokes the violence of his body assuaged by phosphorescence glowing throughout his peltby a slipstream of sand and small particles of rock such as also appear in the night sky when meteors are scudding overhead. *One day in the course of his earthly existence he lived in solitude eating snowthe next he was accompanied by replicas of himself grazing the tundra like hogs on a commonone day he held his breath underwater for hours striking his prey from below like a waterspoutthe next he had fooled them into thinking his nose was the black dot of a meal dozing on the horizonone day he shunted before him ice blocks the size of cars and used them as a shield that made him invisiblethe next he lifted and hurled these same blocks as easily as dice and so crushed his victims or battered out their brains. *In the centuries of worship I meant to represent him but only managed to carve my own skeleton.I touched him in my mind and prized this connection but realised my fear was his greatest gift to me.I regularly ingested a part of his body with all due ceremony but suffered abysmal headaches and lost patches of my skin. *For these reasons I have chosen not to prevent him escaping from me entirely.I have closed my ears and eyes when the ice floes groan and glaciers express their gigantic grief.When the earth stalls and vaporous purple lights stream from its parching gears.I have decided to make a new home for myself with hot showers and a table reliable internet connection a wardrobe and a lifetime of dry clothes.
“The White Bear” from Randomly Moving Particles by Andrew Motion, © 2021.
All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Andrew Motion is professor of creative writing at Royal Holloway College, University of London, and co-founder of the online Poetry Archive. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, and has published four celebrated biographies. His group study The Lamberts won the Somerset Maugham Award and his authorized life of Philip Larkin won the Whitbread Prize for Biography. Motion was knighted in the United Kingdom for his services to poetry in 2009.
Andrew Motion’s expansive new poetry collection is direct in its emotional appeal and ambitious in its scope, all while retaining the cinematic vision and startling expression that so freshly lit the lines of his last, Essex Clay.