A Baby Bear Story for Michael*

There was once a Big Bear whose native environment was the land of North America. He ventured far away, into the jungle of England. There, in a special part of the jungle, it was somewhat enclosed, like a nursery for seedlings, he met a baby bear. Her colour kept changing. Sometimes she was transparent. He could see right through her. He knew she saw what she looked at, though she looked as if she didn't see. What she had, she hid. He wanted to see what she had. She had shits and weird noises and long hair. Sometimes she came out at night, prowling about to see what was left after the other animals had fed. She burrowed away, he got to helping her make holes. She was going down, to grow up.

When the Big Bear came close, she let him feed her, then she thought she was inside him. She tried to take his colour. The Big Bear didn't like her smell, he had his own shit. However, he was out to explore, and to preserve the wild life of the jungle. Carefully, so, as not to frighten her away he continued to hold out food for her. Sometimes she fed, then would go 'all away' as if she had no right to be there, being as one of an 'extinct species'. Yet she tried to survive. Her habits didn't seem to conform to those of the other animals. They felt she was dangerous, and wanted to turn her out from the special enclosure, to wander alone in the vast jungle.
Big Bear ran to her protection and as he had the jaws of a crocodile, and the teeth of a shark, the other animals soon swam away. Sometimes Baby Bear spun a web, like a spider, then she would hibernate as if frozen into an iceberg. Yet she was not, a white polar bear, nor yet a black bear. She loved Fire. Her species was obscure. Yet, she liked Honey, so she was a Bear. Big Bear, licking honey off his paws, would give a pad for her to suck. Sometimes she'd twist into a heap, as if she'd rather die than eat.

In the past they'd tried to tame her, and once she'd been shut up in the Zoo, a place where rare specimens were preserved. The keepers had white coats. She'd wanted one.

Big Bear sought to show her how to live in different places, like he did. She felt if she undid her lock she would explode into oblivion. Yet all her life was bursting out. Big Bear thought maybe she can paint.

Meanwhile, from the mist and bogs of Ireland, by the hand of Patrick and the Holy Ghost, a dark Bear was emerging from his lair. He came stalking in the jungle. Unloosing traps and snares, he saw every evil that was there. Snakes he thrust into the ground and when Big Bear cried in battle Michael was there to clear the air.

Baby Bear, safely in her lair, was making pictures, with paint and papers, wood and canvas. Big Bear got them hung in an exhibition, so she got recognition.

Michael from the land of green bears, wondered what this rainbow was. He thought, maybe she can paint in words. Big Bear told her, you can growl, you lick and sniff, and paint with shit. You can put the world in words.

Big Bear was very pleased, because without catching' Baby Bear he had saved her from extinction. She was so free, she danced with glee.

Together, they wrote all about it. Michael, moving to another cave, took with him all that they had made. There he cooked it to a book, and when all was set and served, Baby Bear leapt with delight for the 'colour' was just right.
Her coat shone with health and vigour. Big Bear had brushed out all the tangles.
Now some new fur they got for Michael. From food so long prepared,
My souls and bodies, meet in God.


* Michael Dempsey, editor of Mary Barnes: Two Accounts of a Journey Through Madness.