The bear was as surprised as we were
suddenly face to face on a trail that had ceased
being a trail at least a decade ago when miners
quit this worthless claim
I am alive!
declared the bear
We are in love!
we said, backing away
Hey, Bear. Hey, Bear.
Above us mountains held the blue milk sky
of the in-between season—
not winter, not spring—unlovely April
with its dingy grass and slick mud
Husband and wife celebrating the anniversary
of their life-long joining , lost in the water-song of melt,
calling out to the bear and the un-beautiful world
as if our tongues were made of flowers
that bloom a month from now,
anemones high in the mountains.
Let us renew our vows, Bear, let us pass, Bear
into the birch, tall-throats waiting
for their green voice to ripen.
Hey, Bear. Hey. The bear considered us,
sniffed the earth then left us to our troth
— Arlitia Jones, April 18, 2017
Lucille Hunter followed the lure of the gold to the Klondike in 1897-98, at the height of the Gold Rush. Hunter who was 19 and pregnant at the time, but that didn’t hold her back. She and her husband Charles took the Telegraph Creek route to Dawson and soon struck out for parts unknown to seek their fortune.
Hunter was born in 1879 in the deep south. She said she had worked in the fields since she was 13 years old. She met her husband and the two decided to head north and north and north again.
On their way to the gold fields, Hunter said they paused only long enough for her to give birth to their daughter whom they named Teslin, in honor of the village of the same name on Teslin Lake.
In those days, Hunter told interviewers, the Native people had never seen a black person before and referred to the Hunters as “another kind of white person.”
We were two musicians playing our distinct parts. She was quick sometimes, light as a flute-note, all over the place. Me, the quiet cello coming behind, rumbly-voiced and talking to myself, liable to forget what direction I was going mid-stride. Together, if a flute and cello can go together–and they did once–we were a whole song.
I miss walking with her.