Space Bear, Heaven and Earth

Arlene Naganawa

           In October 2000, American astronaut William Shepherd flew

          a Tlingit bear mask into space aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Without belly or long claws,

like dust, I float from the spacecraft.

I hover, mute at the table.

I abstain (from such things as eating meat),

from drinking poison clouds,

from closing my face in sleep.

A thin dog-dream comes in a fog.

I feed it scraps of oranges.

He follows me in the street

and into the broken forest.

He does not roll forward in orbit

like the quiet Russian Laika

whose heart was destroyed in space.

The dream-dog whispers in my ear.

They said this to trap him, so that they could accuse him.

I say, I knew about this.

The stars, named their own distant words,

are so small they cry like cubs.

                    (Italicized lines from Tlingit artists Alison Marks’ and Paul Marks’ Heaven and Earth)


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