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.
A WINTER’S CAVE
I put my mind inside
a winter’s cave
to feel all my growling
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
I see I won’t get far
riding this hibernating bear—
as the bear snores
with the waves—
never too high,
never too low.
But if I move I will wake
this bristly thing of claws and teeth—
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