Bear

by Martin Heavisides

I’d been giving bears for years to the mothers on our guest list—my mother in law Zosia and Christine Pawelik’s mother Helen–at Christmas Eve dinner (in Polish, Vigilia) so the year mother’s Toronto visit coincided with Christmas I gave her the biggest bear in my current collection—a plush chocolate brown one with soft black eyes. (The only live bear with anything like that colouring is a Grizzly, which this could only be a very tiny, practically newborn specimen of.) It had about twice the mass (though nothing like the weight) of a full-grown koala, which it didn’t otherwise resemble. Mother complained at the time that I picked the biggest possible bear, when a little one would have fit much more easily in her luggage going back out to Regina. She reiterated the complaint at Pasqua Palliative Care, where the bear, in a plush green armchair, sat facing her bed. She’d already told me the bear had been on her bed at Queen Victoria Estates all the years since that visit, so I didn’t take the complaint too seriously. “I always thought his smile was very friendly and warm. Now when he looks at me, he seems a little sad somehow.”

Martin Heavisides is a contributing editor to Linnet’s Wings; recently published his first novel, Undermind; one of his seven full length plays, Empty Bowl, was given a live reading by The Living Theatre in New York (and published in Linnet’s Wings (Summer 2008). Mad Hatter’s Review, Gambara, Cella’s Round Trip, Sein und Werden and FRIGG are also among the sane and sensible journals that have accepted his work.

 

 

In your cover letter, you mentioned “subliminal subtext.” Could you talk a bit more about that idea and its relationship to writing very compressed prose?

    Well, the idea is that the key to a story is often something that’s mentioned incidentally, in the case of this story ‘Pasqua Palliative Care’, which leads to the sad last line but also casts its shadow back on what went before–not so as to chase away the humour and warmth of its cumulative history of stuffed bears in the lives of people I’ve cared about, but to deepen its resonance and tone–that’s the intent at any rate, and it should make it possible even for very brief writings to carry a wealth of history and significance. Also a way of coming nearer to deep emotions by not emphasizing them too directly.
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