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Scott Edward Anderson


The Ten-legged Polar Bear

Qupqugiaq: a legendary ten-footed polar bear described
by the Inupiaq of Alaska's Arctic North Slope.

Ten legs are better than two
only if they work together—

when all five legs on one side
and all five legs on the other side

move in concert like a sled runner,
the Qupqugiaq moves smoothly,

but if the legs get tangled up
and one leg trips up another,

then another trips another,
the whole bear comes crashing

down; it takes a lot to get
a ten-legged polar bear upright

and get it moving again—
Think of our enterprise in humanity;

when we work well together,
what union of harmony and grace—

Polar Bear illustration by Scott Edward Anderson



Hope Against Hope

My mind is a slate gray sky
about to open up over the capitol. In the distance,
electricity grounds itself to Rhode Island's terminal moraine,
and Narragansett Bay is pregnant with activity.
The city is like a tree, grafted to increase yield:
the scion of this hybrid is Freedom and the stock, Hope.
Did Roger Williams have this in mind, on the day
he was expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony
and exiled to "Rogue's Island?"

My mind is bent to the future
like a fly buzzing against a table lamp,
guided by some unknown power to the light.
Spruce-trees freckle Rhode Island's low hills,
like "Indians" on horseback overlooking a settlement
in some old western. Years are not a life,
trees come down with heavy snow or summer storms,
others are cut to fuel fires in cast-iron stoves,
or are cleared for houses on subdivided acres.

Providence is an article of faith
as much as of divinity. Maybe a life is determined
in the balance of past, present, and future.
Providence, in the immutable language of trees:
Tulip-trees heavy-laden with their "magnolia" blossoms;
post oaks, twisted and stunted, like worried warriors;
ash, hickory, hope; willow, red spruce, blood;
poplar, pine, providence; sandy loam, eelgrass, freedom;
arrow-arum, water weed, Wampanoag; hope against hope.


Scott Edward Anderson is an award-winning poet, writes The Green Skeptic blog, manages the Changemakers lens on Squidoo and the Social Entrepreneurship group on Gather.com, and works for a global conservation organization.
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Ten-legged polar bear illustration by Scott Edward Anderson.


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