Dear Little Griz

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Dear Little Griz,

When I see you, I see your beauty. I also see this river is empty. It is only early fall and I know there will be no more fish to fill this river, to fill your body before the winter. I wonder if you are braced for such scarcity, or if you are hoping that right now, another pulse of salmon are making their way ‘round the bend towards you.

Little Griz, I cannot untangle your beauty from the truth you face; that no more fish will come, that you may not make it through the cold season.

Here, knee deep in the river, in the way of all my most life-shattering truthcomings, I know I cannot seperate your beauty from your reality. I do not want this portrait of you to fall into the hands of the world. Not without bringing all those who see you to their knees with want to do better for you.

I do not want my livelihood to be made on the backs of beautiful bears like you, who have been exploited, extirpated, exiled enough. I do not want to perpetuate these patterns in the slightest.

And some might say, it was not I who made sick your river. It was not my hands that stopped the salmon from coming back. It was not my back that fell your forest. It was not my choice to tip the climate so carelessly as to unsettle the seasons you rely on as a compass to survive.

And so to those, I want to say, look. Look. My hands are dripping with the earth’s blood, my own blood, your blood, their blood. Don’t you see? It is all of us who walk on two legs and cloak our nakedness in a culture so narcissistic. Don’t you see? We all have a hand in the way of the world. If I do not hold myself accountable, then how shall I be driven to act?

Hope has never made a home in me, has never soothed my grief.

Hope has never been the force to ignite me to do better.

You do, Little Griz.

All of this, and still I know too, not my words nor my guilt will nourish you through the winter ahead. Not my love nor my grief will keep you well until spring.
Perhaps you understand all of this. And so you do not look to me for an apology, nor for revenge. You only look for salmon.
So, Little Griz, I suppose I have a lot of work to do to help bring those stolen salmon back to you.


Sincerely,
A