You stood in the middle of a country road
to make me stop and listen.
I got round you and said, when my heart slowed,
that a bear in the road is just coincidence.
So you came over in the middle of the night
and stood between me and the moonlight
and scared me so bad with your size and the surprise
I jumped out of my skin.
A fox barked in the woods and snickered,
“What are you thinking of?
In your body or out of it,
you are now in the dream of the Bear.”
So when you came again, taller than my ceiling,
I made myself enter your embrace.
I thought I would die in your arms;
instead, I grew to your size, and we danced.
You showed me we are joined at the heart
as an unborn child is joined to its mother
by a thick umbilical pumping life juice.
You told me to call on you for healing.
There are days when I still forget you.
One night, from a hilltop, I saw you on the road
like a walking mountain, dwarfing the cars.
I feared you would crush them like matchbox toys.
Fox barked again, and I saw you were the shadow
thrown by the moonlight from my shoulders.
I had not known your power with me had grown so big,
and that I must choose whether it will harm or heal.
I am still remembering you. I remember now
that I knew you when I was a soldier in leather armor
fighting under the banner of the Bear Goddess.
Weary, I went to die in wild country, but you healed me.
I remember that when the Real People laid my body
in the blanket of mother Earth, I found rest
in the heartwood of an oak until, stirring from my long nap,
I sought life in a newborn cub that could fit in a pink palm.
You are healing. I have seen you open yourself
as a medicine chest, offering all you contain.
You are protection. I have seen you gather your kind
to form an unbreakable circle of defense against the dark.
Behind all your forms, you are the Mother.
You made me find the right song
to open a door in the roots of the Life Tree
and receive your blessing in a world beneath the world.
I bring others here, to be nursed and healed
in your generous lap, and be joined to their dream selves,
their wonder-children, their powers of healing and creation –
that fled from them when they fled from you.
This poem is in my collection Here, Everything Is Dreaming: Poems and Stories. Published by Excelsior Editions/State University of New York Press.
Drawing by RM