Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Hunter, the Bear & Little Red Cape"

I am so honored that artist Ericka Resnick was so taken by my poem "The Hunter, the Bear & Little Red Cape" that she created a brand new assemblage for the "Ekphrasis" exhibit to accompany my poem.

The Hunter, The Bear and Little Red Cape

You may think you know this tale. But you don’t. 
That you’ve heard it as a child. But be assured you haven’t.
It may sound familiar, but there is no big bad wolf 
or grandmother. Just a flirty girl in a red cape. 

Once upon a time there was a hunter –– a gatherer really, for he preferred 
animals as companions rather than food –– who lived in the deep of the forest.
He was always on the search for a wolf, for he thought these magical 
and sleek animals were the most beautiful of God’s creations. But alas,
wolves were scarce in his part of the world and he began to abandon hope. 

One day the hunter came upon a black bear tangled in a trap. He rescued the awkward 
animal, nursed it back to health and kept it for himself. The two slowly built a companionship 
and understanding, and before he realized it, four years had dripped through the hour
glass. The hunter always knew deep in his throbbing heart that this was not what 
he wanted. But he found comfort in the bear’s company. And that would suffice for now. 

There were things about the bear that annoyed the hunter –– his social clumsiness,
his dozing at inappropriate times. They would cuddle by the fire, but the bear’s fur 
was too bristly and his belly too big for the hunter’s liking. He would put on a smile
and whisper what the bear wanted to hear, for he knew the bear liked these together 
moments. The hunter only wanted to make his friend happy, for he truly loved his bear. 

The beginning of the end of the hunter and bear came one virgin spring 
day in the form of a seductress. The hunter returned to his cottage earlier than usual 
to find a young girl talking to his pal. She wore a long red cape that flittered
behind her when she moved from foot to foot and carried a basket of goodies.
The hunter hid behind a wise tree and watched the exchange unnoticed.

“What beautiful fur you have,” purred the girl slowly caressing the bear’s back.
“All the better to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night,” replied the bear with a wink.
“And what a handsome belly you have,” she gaped rubbing it and batting her auburn lashes.
“All the better to cushion your head with my dear,” flirted back the bear. The girl stuck her hand in the basket and pulled out a finger. The bear licked at it gluttonously eliciting a spur of titters.

“You’re cute,” giggled the girl, turning away from the hulking animal and moving toward
whence she came. Before dancing away, she turned once again, tossed the bear a kiss, 
then skipped off humming a foolish ditty. The bear smiled from ear to ear,
then began rolling around in the clover and humming the tune the girl left him. 
The hunter watched his friend magically come to life before his eyes.

The bear was oblivious to his approach and sniffed ravenously at the air savoring 
the disappearing scent.  “Who was that?” asked the hunter trying to contain the rollercoaster 
in his voice. Soured butterflies rebounded off his gullet frantically searching for a way out. 
“A girl on an errand,” tepidly replied the bear. “She stopped to say hello.” He went back
to wobbling in the clover, ignoring the hunter, who reluctantly went to his cottage.

The next day, the hunter returned from his routine only to find the bear nowhere
to be seen. He called and called but there was no response. He spotted a tiny pot
at the foot of the wood’s trail. It was empty, turned on it’s side, and the sticky remains
bled onto the earth. Honey –– something the hunter rarely fed his bear. “Of course,”
he told himself, tears –– like realizations –– welled in his eyes. “Bears love honey.”

The hunter didn’t leave his cottage –– not so comfy anymore –– for a full week falling
into a deep depression at the loss of his bear buddy. He couldn’t eat –– for all food tasted
of drained pine needles. He drank flagons of mead to drown out the jolly memories
of his simple friend and to erase those of the bitter boff of the girl in the red cape. He couldn’t
shake the image of the bear licking her finger. But on the last day, it all became clear.

The girl was the true hero of this tale. Not him. She freed his bear from a life of hoping
and hanging on. She made him feel special in a way that the hunter never could. Adored
the things about him that the hunter never did. He took a deep breath and wiped his dry
tears. He dressed in his freshest finery, opened the door, and once again began the search 
for his wolf. The bear and the girl found it. Now it was time for his own happily ever after.

— Robert P. Langdon

Poem copyright Robert P. Langdon and may not be used, in any part, without permission of Robert P. Langdon

“Faire des Choix”
Erica Resnick
Mixed Media Assemblage
32” x 16”

Artwork inspired by the poem The Hunter, The Bear and Little Red Cape

Image copyright Erica Resnick. Image may not be used without the permission of the artist.

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