The Polar Bear Messenger


Late one night, after working on the poem below…

…I went to sleep to dream of a polar bear.  In the dream…

…I have a pet polar bear that follows me all around my apartment.

I know I should keep on eye on it.  But I have so many other things to do.  Finally, the bear grabs my hand in its mouth to get my attention.  Though it doesn’t bite, neither does it let go.

When I woke from this dream, the message seemed fairly clear to me:

I need to make time for an inner aspect that connects me to the natural world.  This energy is powerful and potentially destructive—actually, it could eat me alive.  But it’ll remain civil—“domesticated“—as long as I pay attention to it.

But why had the dream used a polar bear to deliver the message?  Why not a grizzly bear?  Why not a panda?

Well, polar bears live in the Arctic, the extreme north.  To me, North represents the unknown, the mysterious, the ultimate.  One can go no farther, go no higher, without leaving this planet.  “North” is a spirit come to earth, earth come to spirit.  The polar bear is of the natural world, but also closely connected to the spiritual realm.


I put my mind inside
a winter’s cave
to feel all my growling
spread thin
over a lake of frozen stars.

But even at rest, I rise and fall—
underneath the ice, the night waters
ripple into waves, the waves slosh against
the shore rocks, the stars break
apart.  I am returned
to myself.  My escape
too sweet…
                  too short.

I see I won’t get far
riding this hibernating bear—

as the bear snores
beneath me
I rise
and fall
with the waves—

never too high,
never too low.

But if I move I will wake
this bristly thing of claws and teeth—
the beast
might dismember me.

On the other hand…

the bear and I could be using
this new time now
to gather honey and salmon.

© 2010, Michael R. Patton
myth steps

About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and storyteller...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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