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The Bear

They slowly turned their gaze towards the newborn child. The mother picked it up and kissed away the last remnants of birth: clinging, vague shapes of glistening innocence. The father only stared. His hands clutched at the tattered book under his fingers. His knuckles were white with fearful pressure. The baby gurgled and spit. The mother began to sing.

A soft Indian, song filled the empty air. Suddenly the baby became attentive. The father opened the book. The baby tentatively joined in the song, moving ever closer to harmony.

Will he ever look right? The father asked.

The mother broke off her singing. The baby soon followed.

Soon, soon, you must have patience.

She began to push on the baby's body. The skin stayed in the shape into which it was pressed. The mother pulled out several small tools from a nearby drawer. She began to shape the baby and carve into his skin. The refuse fell away as discarded shavings.

Many hours passed and the baby began to assume a recognizable shape. The rounded body, narrow muzzle, and heavy paws combined together to form a tiny bear cub. The mother sat him down on the floor. He gave a harmless growl.

The father began to read:

And by the pagan hand we shill transform all into our own image.


1987

Published in Life Times #2