I built the bear from what I knew of horses. I didn’t know running except towards joy so I molded his legs as sinewed spindles. When he was done, his mouth seemed too long, the slope of his spine distinctly equine but when I called him Bear he answered. I fed him warm milk in the morning and biscuits before bed. He slept beside me with his muzzle nuzzled into the hollow of my chest. We lived alone, Bear and I, in a wooden house away from town. Bear seemed to like this, would tread the perimeter till the grass dried in a halo. When the rain came we found ourselves with a moat. Bear seemed pleased with this, would huddle closer to me in bed, would wake before me and watch me shudder in sleep. The truth is, I didn’t know horses. I had no books but mirrors and a few yellowed photographs of what I’d left. Bear grew and I noticed things. A familiar glint in his eye I must have carved, a restless twitch about his mouth. One morning I awoke to find Bear’s clawed paw on my naked thigh, three lines of dried blood he’d drawn in sleep. I had to chase him out then, through the door and across the moat where he didn’t pause. I had fixed his eyes forward like mine so he could never look back.
Published in Weave Magazine 2009.