Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Bear and the Birds

The First Nations of the US and Canada have many stories that link the sky and earth.
The following rhyme was inspired by one such tale told by the Micmac people of Newfoundland
relating to Ursa Major.

Bear and the Birds

Vernal equinox comes shining.
Hungry wolves in forest whining.
Mighty bear awakens growling,
time to go on sky’s great prowling.

Chickadee feels night-time falling,
“feed me food” from stomach calling.
Mother bear up sky comes climbing,
fatty flesh with perfect timing.

Sky-bear is big and bird is small
so chickadee puts out a call,
“if all want food then all must hunt.
I’ll bring my pot, who goes in front?”

Cute moosebird cries, “I choose the rear –
to sweep the mess – it’s not from fear."
Cock robin shouts, “I’m in the lead!
My trusty bow will do the deed.”

“I’ll peck her juicy nose and eye
and you can have a meaty thigh,”
cries chickadee, “a-tee-hee-hee,
and moosebird gets a bony knee.”

All summer long they stalk their prey
who hides behind the sun by day
but when the lid goes on at night
they see her there by lunar light.

“It’s Autumn now, let’s slay the beast
then hide our meat for winter feast.”
But bear stands high to make a fight
with paws that strike and teeth that bite.

Moosebird and chickadee fly low
for fear the beast will land a blow
but robin, with a steady eye,
takes aim and lets an arrow fly.

Sharp barb rips into bear’s great chest.
Her spurting blood stains robin’s breast
then covers maple trees in red.
Leaves fall like tears as bear is bled.

The winter fat seeps from her bones
as cold as death as hard as stones
and all the land is covered white
and plunged into a winter’s night.

Her frame still floats in northern sky
but hush belovèd do not cry,
her spirit fled back to the den
so in the spring she’ll rise again.

Then by the light of crescent moon
like starry handle of a spoon
three birds will follow after bear
as close as any hunter dare.

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