Friday, September 19, 2008

Invitation To a Ceremony

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.


Nita Jo said...

Awesome drawing and poem. I love the flow of words. It brought such distinct images to mind.
Thank you for sharing it!

mgirl said...

This is so beautiful, and I could also hear these words as a song. I love your drawing too!

keith hillman said...

This is such a lovely post. The picture is wonderful as are your words. Is there no end to your talent?!!

Beth said...

How I look forward to your posts. Here, spirit bears come to life in precise storytelling traditions in image and word. What a celebration!

linda may said...

Wonderful post. I wrote in my profile I would love to be able to paint pictures with words. You just did Granny.

Bethany said...

You are one talented lady. I loved the poem -- like mgirl said, I imagined it a song -- and the drawing was beautiful! The two together gave me those mysterious tingles I get on frosty winter nights... Lovely.

anthonynorth said...

Beautiful in word and image. And you could almost imagine similar at the solstice as ancient animist tribal ritual took place.

Greyscale Territory said...

This whole post ~ drawing and poem ~ would make a wonderful entry in a book of legends. There is so much magical mystery here that awakens the sleeping child in all of us! Simply beautiful!

Aki Nominal said...

Your poem evokes such a vivid imagery! I love it. :)

Kamsin said...

Great post, never mind that it isn't new!
There was a story in the news this week about a man somewhere on a mountain path in Japan being attacked by a bear! He seemed to be OK as he was telling his story quite happily to the news people!

Robin said...

How utterly captivating! I love the enchanting turns of phrase (grumpy bears crossly grumbling) and the idea that the bears themselves question whether it was all a dream.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

It's an intriguing idea, that the bears wake for the solstice. You tell the story in a captivating way, Granny.

rebecca said...


you have such talent. i love your voice. it is beautiful indeed.

Lucy said...

I would swear you've been a bear in a former life Granny, to be able to write this vivid story with such incredible detail and feeling.
Your picture and story are Beary beautiful!

Playitsam said...

Love it. I can picture that deep sleep. You are quite the artist too!

anno said...

Beautiful! This reminds me of something I once read in one of the books from Jean Craighead George's 13 Moons series. I love the illustration, too!

B. Roan said...

What a talented lady you are Granny Smith. BJ

Remiman said...

A captivating poem for sure and an example of why you deserve Laini's award!
The picture is perfect.

Emma said...


totomai said...

surely a very captivating and intriguing tale. a unique perspective :-)

present said...

"the still clearing is hedged with sentinel pines roofed by the shining sweep of milky Way" You've captured a universal experience...the collective unconscious. It is a picture so vivid from memory. The bears and their instinctual dance and slumber that moves along with the seasons.
Your images and words are beautiful Granny Smith.

texasblu said...

Lovely picture, and I was right there with them in the poem. :)

Quin Browne said...


Linda Jacobs said...

What a storyteller you are! Just lovely!

tumblewords said...

Ah, you have such talent! Lovely!

alister said...

Oh I want to be a bear, languorous and cozy and wondering if I’d danced or just dreamed I’d danced! Your drawing and writing has sold me, made bearness never look so good! How could it not have dented its paw-prints upon the expanse of my gawking mind? I love the bears in their summer polkas stanza and I licked up the whole of the delicious last stanza as well. Your Yummy Bears, the new mind candy ;-)

Rebeckah said...

You are very creative. I love imaginations! Hope this week is a happy one for you!

Preethi said...

lovely imagery.. such vivid narration here.. loved it

Birthday Invite

Goddess Diana said...

Hello Goddess Granny Smith,

Your words are so beautiful.

Thank you for visiting my site and your encouraging words.

Thank you for sharing your life and stories. I am still waiting to hear about your book

And now I invite you to be tagged. Please come visit my site at Free to Be the Goddess in Me

Again, thank you for your inspiration.

Wishing you,
Peace & Love, Just Because,
Goddess Diana

TD said...

Just beautiful. Your words are like small pictures, each evoking my suspension of disbelief regarding these anthropomorphic bears. Thanks...

nonizamboni said...

Charming poem and such a lovely drawing too. I had the images in my had of the sleepy bears dancing all day now. I will want to re-read this offering again and again.