|"Holly Berry Deer" by Brenda Thour
There is a moment before the white tail lifts in a short, sharp, shock and she disappears in silent bounds into the forest. In that moment, there is an inquisitiveness, an ears forward fearless gaze. Glistening snow holds the space her hooves once occupied.
An old red fox crosses the field, her broken tail askew. Head down listening, listening to the soft rustling of life beneath the snow. She pauses, still, creeping, still and pounces her headlong abandonment into the deep drift. Coming up short, she trots to the large pine and rolls in the snow.
She is in good company.
|Fox, artist unknown
|Primal Bear by Laura Smith-Riva
In the dream, I see some deer coming out of the woods, followed by a coyote and a bear. They are being “pushed” out of the woods by a man who I believe is a hunter who is baiting the bear. I can feel how in the dream, I have the story of the hunter in my head before I even see him. Nothing in the dream supports the story I have about the hunter. The animals are calm, the man looks like a carpenter in overalls and a straw hat. He is carry a bucket, and now as I remember back into the dream, perhaps a pole as if he’s been out fishing.
My story is that he is a bad guy who is tricking the bear towards its death. This is a place of trauma for me. I know this story well. Being tricked, betrayed in the place of decency and vulnerability.
In the dream, the creatures come down onto the wrap around porch that I am on. The porch over looks down onto a wide field and forest. The sun is near the horizon. There is another man with me now. Is it the fisherman? He feels supportive, tells me to perform a ritualized cry which I believe is about moving the bear along so she won’t be caught. The bear is next to me and I cry out. The man directs me in the cry which becomes more like a primal scream. High pitched and yet guttural. I feel a pushing energy in me, push this scream out. First towards the bear but then just out over the field and forest and sky. The bear stands next to me and looks out towards the expansive landscape. And I continue to scream. I send all of it out into the infinite cosmos where there is room for all of it; there is no more room in me.
This is the cry to heaven, the release of something. Anger, grief, fear...An acknowledgment of all that I know and all that I feel in the acknowledgment of my own places of trauma. What has happened, what is right and what is wrong. How I do know and it’s not me. I am not what is wrong.
I belong with bear, coyote, deer. The fisherman knows about all of this. He understands the vulnerability of deer, prey. He understands coyote, a different kind of trickster, and how he survives. He understands Andarta, Bear Goddess of my North, and her great potency. And he understands me in my grief and anger.
There is no trick. Deer, Coyote and Bear are coming to me and there is nothing to do except lift my voice in the full throttled cry that connects me to the cosmos...and know that this man, the fisherman, is not here to trick me.
dream inspired poem
I had my place at the ancient
Colosseum. A seat right up front...
until the horses thundered by
all froth and supple violence
I simply cannot abide. I cast
a final gaze at vacant-eyed
corpses lifting delicate parasols,
colorful, dripping brown.
The spattered faces of my
family, so enraptured.
They did not see the sky
turn to lava, alien drones
opening fire. Do they even
know that they are dead?
I cannot not go back.
Instead, taking up arms, a tired
rebel, adrenaline junkie
lifting sword and shield.
Broken glass, stumbling,
black-toothed railroad ties.
I yield to a stony bank,
rough kneed, blood in my
palm, dusty sandpaper eyes.
Raven, dark winged
shawl bows my head.
And we make our escape toward the
bright forest, where the moon sheds
her clothing on oak, ash and thorn,
yew and cedar, my ancestors.