Dogs 2006

BEAR BAIT
(11/1/06)


the Innuits told us
that the polar bears
would go after anything dark
the animals knowing that
out on the snow and ice
anything dark
and moving
meant food

so we wore
our arctic camo
when venturing away
from the station
not many electing
for such a diversion
when off duty
choosing instead
the relative comfort
and safety
of the barracks

I however
being a natural loner
needed the separation
from the rest of the crew
so would hike out miles
on the frozen Bering
feeling wonderfully alone
on my own private
Ice Planet
comprising nothing
but glittering crystal
stretching west
to the horizon

one of the dogs
a coal black Chow mix
would usually accompany me
orbiting my slow progress
across the icy expanse
always circling
never stopping
describing some complex
arctic arithmetic function
about my single line
of travel

an Innuit
happened by one day
on his snowmobile
pulling up to me
displaying a knowing
almost toothless grin

"that's smart"
he said

not having
that accusation
thrown in my direction
on a regular basis
I asked

"what?"

"using the dog
to distract the bears
from you"

he motored off
leaving me to contemplate
my unintended relationship
with my furry
fellow traveler
and wondering
which of us
was actually
the bait

now back
in the Lower 48
my chances are slim
to see bears
of any type

but
if I happen
to invite you
to come with me
somewhere
anywhere
on a bright
sunny day
you might
seriously consider
before accepting
the invitation