The Sunday Scribblings prompt is invitation.
“The Great Bear Invites You To the Winter Solstice”On this, the longest night, they should sleep best,
but something summons bears from den-snug slumber.
Perhaps a wisp of carol disturbs their rest,
wafts from a village far below. Bears lumber
from earthy mouths of dens, and, stumbling, go
with stifled yawns and heavy-lidded eyes
to dent their paw-prints in the virgin snow.
Frost nips each nose; stars glitter in the skies.
This still clearing is hedged with sentinel pines
roofed by the shining sweep of Milky Way.
One by one they come, then wavering lines
of dusky shapes--the black, the brown, the gray,
the heavy gravid females, the born-last-spring
still close beside their mothers, grumpy males
crossly grumbling. They form a ragged ring.
The murmurs fade; expectant hush prevails.
The eldest clears her throat, proclaims this hour,
then points to stars that trace the sacred sight--
The Great Bear—One who holds the only power
to turn the sun back from its dreaded flight.
The young ones gaze with wonder and the old
with troubled reverence. In the ancient way
they solemnly rise upright, move to hold
their neighbors, paw-to-shoulder, start to sway.
It's not the same light revelry that spurred
their summer polkas. This is ritual turning
and clapping paws to inward rhythms heard
in ursine souls, mute music of their yearning.
Bit by bit the dance grows swift. There springs
an ecstasy of motion gripping all.
They spiral, swirl and twirl in dizzy rings
until, exhausted, panting, spent, they fall.
An old bear, flecks of grey in once-dark fur,
with faltering steps approaches each prone bear.
He dips his stick into the gourd to stir
the sacred honey, touches it to where
each open mouth awaits. They're reassured
that sunlight will return and days grow long
and bushes lush with berries be their reward
and salmon leap, bees buzz their honeyed song.
Already languorous, bears rise to their feet,
give one another ritual hugs, then go,
eyes almost closed again, back to the sweet
warm snugness of each den, secure from snow,
to curl in their soft fur, nor need to rouse
to plunge for leaping salmon that have chanced
into their dreams. They wonder as they drowse
if they have danced or only dreamed they danced.
My poem and drawing were actually done several years ago, but seemed appropriate to the "invitation" prompt, even though we are just approaching the autumn equinox.