The bear emerges from his slumber.

The lips of his eyelids peel away from each other like the birth of two black holes. Light floods across his pupils the same way a sunrise — imagine every sunrise all at once pouring every light particle into the darkest dark; every flashlight shining into a single well. His eyes are metaphors for the cave he stands to leave, the sun is a metaphor for the sun — every color in the spectrum of light all at once. His eyelids give his eyes to this luminous glowing ocean of fiery neon white.

It’s like this for all of his senses. All at once.

The wet leather of his tongue tours around the smooth snare of his teeth, sweeps across the pearl bone of his bite through the remnant river flavors that slept in the damp hollow architecture of his jaw. His mouth tastes like charred rock and salmon. His breath tastes like the breath of a bear; spicy with a trace of sweet oak. The malt of his saliva, the copper of his gums, the balmy billow of his breath. His yawn propels his tongue outward where he tastes the brisk salt musk of a seasoned breeze.  

The air rushes to his throat through his nose — carrying with it the scent of cinnamon floral tree bark, orange peel pine, lingering hints of maple and ash with a light honey finish.

His paws adjust to the powder hard dirt beneath him. Jagged, soft, and solid the weight of the earth pushes back against his own. He feels his mass distributed across the stretch of his bulky legs. His bear claws press into sharp crusts of branch and dry remains left by the stale end of a winter he only remembers in the temperate sound of cave echoes and sleep. His nails, pointed and acute, comb through his fur, tickle his skin, rip through snarls of tangled hair. His body throws itself forward through the anvil-shaped rock mouth; his silhouette is a monster.

He stumbles to a standstill. His attention caught by the shuffle of branches in the acres of wilderness that spread out before him. The rumble of his stomach echoes back into the cave den. He lifts a paw past his ear toward a tiny distinct buzzing — a sound with no visible source. He swats, loses balance, and rolls further out of the cave and onto his back. He jostles his body from side to side until his paws catch traction and he is able to pull himself upright again. He adjusts his posture, shakes his fur, and shifts his body weight. He comes unknowingly close to the rock ledge knocking an oblong stone loose. The bear is startled backward by the instability of the ground. He watches the stone tumble down the full length of the mountainside; shaking up dirt and crashing through brush.

The overwhelming sensation of all of this — the sight and taste and scent and touch and sound — excites the bear up onto his hind legs stretching his body toward the cedar sky; the vanilla air; the burnt sherry sunlight pouring down across his senses. He opens his mouth wide as his lungs push air through his throat in the shape of a momentous roar; a buoyant growl that swims through the canyon and echoes back.

At the sound of hearing his weighted cry howl back at him, the bear recoils the fluffy weight of his body back down to earth. Humbled and hungry, he is alone with his thoughts.

He blinks, his eyes are two black holes swallowing light.  

The bear’s Hunger is a proper noun. The bear will follow his instincts. The bear has been asleep, but he is awake now and the only language he knows is survival.

***