301 Moved Permanently

301 Moved Permanently


Polar Bear


A man flew across an ocean. He flapped hard. There would be new things across the sea. In fact, there would be amazing newness. Polar bears, new people, electronic marvels. There would be his mother. After one week, the man landed in our country. He had a tin can and a string which once connected it to another tin can, but with all the flapping, the string had broken. Now he was in our airport with an empty can and his words were strange. The airport didn’t like his can and his broken string.  “Don’t carry too much liquid,” the airport said. “Remember your tray table,” the airport said. “Don’t use strange words,” the airport said. “And take off your shoes.”

The man wanted to get out of the airport but the airport wouldn’t let him. “Please,” the man said, but the airport said, “No.” “Please?” the man said. “No,” the airport said. “Not yet.” “How about now?” the man said. But the airport said, “Not yet,” and made him wait some more.

The man wanted to get out of the airport. It did not like him. He waited six months. Then he held up a stapler and a small table. He was waiting for his mother, for polar bears, for electronics. Surely a country as beautiful could not keep him from polar bears, electronics, and his mother, he thought.

“We are going to shout things,” we said. “And you will understand.”  We police were not yet polar bears. We began shouting but the man did not understand. “Now we will shout again,” we said. “We will shout louder and we will order you to understand. And just to be safe,” we said, “we will lock your hands together. Don’t thank us. Don’t applaud. It is our job.” The man did not thank us or applaud. One should only clap when things are over, he thought.

We were not his friends. The airport didn’t like him. Then we plugged him into the ground. An electronic marvel. A fistful of storm turning his bones to flesh, his flesh to bone. He fell to the floor. A man made squid. Then he died. An amazing newness. An ocean. A tin can big as the world. And that was just us.

This is what happened. This is my evidence. I am a polar bear, a police officer, some broken string. I did not applaud. »

From subTerrain #66

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