I am your inner polar bear. Find me before it's too late.
There's a photograph of me rafting an iceberg, the melted sea all around, the sea that should have been solid.
I was thinking about the end of Frankenstein - do you remember? The monster has fled to the icy wastes because he can find no home; the thing that he is has no place, and when something has no place, first it does a lot of damage and then it dies. The monster curses Frankenstein for creating him without a world where he can live - then as the waters break around the ice-bound ship, the monster leaps from Frankenstein's cabin and is borne away on an ice-raft into the unending night.
I am thinking about the end of the world - not because I am religious, but because I am a polar bear, and the world will end for me faster than it will for you, and you'll put some of me in zoos and special chill nature reserves, but what you will really be excited about is oil and trade and who controls the North West Passage.
And I will be a monster because only monsters have no home.
When you take my world away from me I'm going to come and live with you. All your civilised and all your science will be on the outside, along with all your trade and aid. Inside, there will be me. Your inner polar bear - the wild free place white pristine - sun dropped red behind my head head back jaw open swallowing pounds and pounds of fresh killed life raw clean cold. The dive of me the weight of me.
I will be everything you have lost. I will be everything you neglected. I will be everything you forgot. I will be the wild place sold for money.
You see, when I lived far away, you knew I was there, and I kept something for you, even though you had never seen a polar bear or an ice floe. Even though you are not adapted to my conditions. I kept your wild, cold, raw. And the lion keeps something for you, and the mangrove swamp and the coral and the spider and the wren.
You think I am a stupid polar bear? Go up into space and look back at this diamond cut planet, polar capped, white whirled. It is one planet, one place, and there is nothing else like it anywhere in the solar system. When you see it whole, you remember that it's not polar bears over there, and snakes over here; it's one place, one strange special place. It comes as a whole or not at all.
You will live longer than us - my kind, not just my polar bear kind but all of us who need a home and you so envious that you want all the homes, leaving nothing you can't sell or rent. Enclosure of the whole world.
Sixty-five million years ago the dinosaurs disappeared and something like a man began. There must have been some dinosaur dust left behind - how else to explain the Homo sapiens you have become, greedy for everything, nothing in the whole world safe if you are here. All I can comfort myself with, as the ice melts under me, is that you are as stupid as they were. What's the difference between a dinosaur and a human being? A dinosaur destroys everything - but doesn't call it progress.
Climb on my back and I'll carry you to the top of the snow-silent mountains and let you look out over the rim of the earth. Look, beyond us are the stars, and if I reach with my paws I can use the stars as footholds. Higher now, through the witnesses, which I think the stars are, the roof of our life bright with silver eyes. What do they see? This blue planet, and near her, the white moon that holds us in her gravitational pull so that we spin at the speed of life. Not too fast, not too slow, the speed of life.
As I climb through the stars, stretching myself into a constellation, the Great Polar Bear, I wonder how many millions of years it will be before a wiser species than Homo sapiens inhabits the earth? And I wonder if I will ever come home?
When the earth re-evolves herself, after the plagues, the bombs, the wipe-outs, the lights-out, will there be polar bears? And lions? And wrens?
When earth begins again I would like to slide down a chute of stars into an icy untamed sea and swim through the cold to the ice floe where there will be others like me, not monsters, homed. A place to be.
But until then I would rather climb away, not wait for the last piece of ice to melt, but climb into the airless cold of outer space where I too can be a witness to what happens next.
Once upon a time there was a polar bear. He had nowhere to live so he came to live in your head. You started to think polar bear thoughts about icyness and wilderness. You went shopping and looked at fish. At night you dreamed your skin was fur. When you got in the bath you dropped through nameless waters deeper than regret. You left the cold tap running. You flooded the house. You dived into winter with no clothes on. You sought loneliness. You wanted to see the sun rise after a night that lasted as long as all the things you have done wrong. You wanted to see the sun come up and no one to be near you. You wanted to look out over the rim of the world. But you live in the city and the rest is gone.
And all the longings and all the loss can't bring back the dead. The most beautiful place on earth was everywhere - a raft in the wilderness of space, precarious, unlikely, our polar bear home.