Five Points, Vol. 12 No. 2Fall 2008
From Philip Schultz, “I always thought if I gave up poetry it would lead to happiness, because I was always writing about how unhappy I was, and it turned out to be the opposite.”
The Price of Silver
It makes me happy to see that Doris and the cubs have found themselves a great big juicy carcass, a full-grown bull. Snowfall was light this year, so the body count is low. R.B., who scouts the terrain obsessively, tells me he’s seen it firsthand: spring pickings are slim. It could be a sign, depending on others yet to come, that the mamas will wean their youngsters on the early side. R.B.’s addicted to prowling the woods, to hunting even when he’s not out to kill. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out here right now, watching this very same scene, watching me watch it. Or maybe that’s just what I wish.
We’ve been listening to Doris, all of us, to the frequency that tracks her comings and goings, along with her twins, ever since they left the den last month. She’s the most local of our subjects, hanging out on the near slopes of Gannett. So far the signals have been strong and easy to follow, her forays close and fairly routine. I come out to look for her as often as I can these days, whenever I don’t have to be at the station. I follow a logging road partway up the mountain, then bushwhack almost randomly, stake out a perch and glass the slopes, close yet not too close to the den. Today my persistence paid off.
I’m careful to stay downwind and keep my distance. One thing that keeps me careful is remembering that guy at the conference in Flagstaff who wasn’t. A grizzly sow broke the guy’s collarbone and took off a piece of his jaw, but she left it at that, lesson enough for coming so close to her babies. High summer, a field of flowers blooming their heads off. He told me the smell of Queen Anne’s lace, even now, fills him with panic. So strange, the things our minds just won’t let go of, the things that loom absurdly large and make us quake with fear. I’m not afraid of the dark, of heights or thunderstorms or solitude. What I’m afraid of is a particular kind of pointlessness. Fear of futility. Futiliphobia.
Oh, here’s a laugh. The guy who was mauled? He studies salamanders. And now the bottom half of his face looks like it was hit by a truck and then replaced with part of a dime-store mannequin.