Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bear Giver

From a dream

He walks with me like a faithful dog
though he’s twice my size
and my ancestors feared and revered him so much
they never spoke his name out loud,
calling him Honey-mouth, or Sticky-paw
or the Matchless One. Upright, he seems man
more than animal, though on cold nights
men in the wild would envy his fine warm pelt.

We are going to the animal doctor
not the corner vet but the real thing
because the Bear is ready to give himself again.
He passes without pain, without blood.
The animal doctor explains we must use all of him,
every organ, wasting nothing, sharing with those in need.
We unwrap the Great One as a medicine bundle.
Everything inside his skin is clean and dry,
sorted for use. The gall bladder is prized above all.
It will go to one who has earned it.
When we have used all of him, Bear is reborn,
the same Honey-mouth, in a new body.
The animal doctor says we must remember this always:
When you take from the Bear with respect, wasting nothing
Bear always comes back, in a new pelt.

Now I walk with him in his new body
to help someone who has dreamed him,
padding softly down hospital halls.
The Master of Medicine gives himself over and over.
This is the most natural thing in the world.
There is no end to this, unless our love runs dry
and we forget what he is.

The bear who seems ready to for lunch was photographed on the grounds of Johnson Hall, the last home of Sir William Johnson in upstate New York. Image courtesy of Wanda Burch.


Unknown said...

Aren't the wee hours a lovely gift? Thank you for using them on this occasion to bring forth such a wonderful thing!

Justin Patrick Moore said...

I'm sure you have enough dream inspired poems now to fill at least a slender volume if not a larger one. I look forward to seeing these in print.

Savannah said...

What a lovely gift to the bear Robert. Seconding Justin's suggestion... your poems inspired by the animal spirits alone would make a moving and welcome volume. Wanda, thank you for that priceless image :-).

Robyn said...

"Bear always comes back, in a new pelt"...and the story continues to be lived and told--as you do so eloquently, Robert.

Picture and dream poem, both remarkable.

Robert Moss said...

Justin and Savannah - Thanks so much for your encouragement to produce a book of my poetry. Yes, this is overdue, and I'll actively explore how to bring this to fruition.

Pamela and Robyn - Thanks for your enthusiasm. Sending bear hugs.

Irène said...

Thanks Wanda, for the striking photo! I'm going to try to make it a screen-saver (a challenge, given my computer skills).

I too Robert, treasure the poems I've read on this website and so take advantage of the stream of preceeding comments to tell you that I print your poems and keep them ready at hand to read for comfort during my least inspiring moments.