bear

I make friends with a bear. Or really, the bear makes friends with me.

It is when I am very sad. I know I will work for another year then close my clinic. Then I will work somewhere else and either make a lot of money or get very sick. Sick being likely. And scary.

The bear lures me out to walk. By offering food.

The bear tells me things, many things. The bear asks me questions. Sometimes I don’t want to answer. I say, “Do I have to answer that?” The bear knows that those are very dark places, when I don’t want to answer.

“What do you want?” asks the bear.

“I just want to be loved.” I say.

“I don’t love you,” says the bear. “I want to be left alone.”

“Then why are you walking with me?” I say.

“People don’t listen.” says the bear.

“I am listening,” I say. The bear shakes his head. We go on walking, often. The bear is both shy and brave, angry and scared, dangerous. “I am very very dangerous.” says the bear.

“Ok.” I say.

Time passes. The bear keeps saying, “People don’t listen.”

“I am listening,” I say.

“People don’t listen,” says the bear. He leaves. Back to the woods, to hide or hibernate or do bear things.

I stand on the beach alone.

“I am listening,” I say.

But the bear wants to be left alone.

So I leave him alone.

Bird talk

A photo tale from a hike last week.

Her: “I think we should discuss our future.”

Him: “Well, um.”

Her: “Wait. Are you trying to tell me something?”

Her: “Is there someone else!!?!”

Him: “I was going to tell you!”

Her: “You lying scum.”

Him: “Wait! Oh, no, she’s GONE.”

__________________________________

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: create.

These are Pigeon Guillemots, more here.

Photographs taken on Marrowstone Island last week.

Caduceus Hair

A physician says to me, “You might have had more friends and been more successful in your career if you had been put on medication a long time ago.”

I think, “You f—ing bitch.” Nothing shows on my face. The doctor face is pleasant on the surface and the stone face that guards my feelings is deeper. I could show you the snakes and you would turn to stone but I would go to jail.

Your words don’t go away. They fester, a deep deep wound. I ask my other doctor, “If my only symptom of pneumonia is my mood, no white count, no fever, how would I know if I had pneumonia if I were medicated?”

I think back. Age twenty five with belly pain, emergency room, CT scan and then a sigmoidoscopy. I couldn’t eat, it hurt so bad. The emergency room offers me valium. “No,” I say, “my father is an alcoholic. I won’t take that.” I am sent to counseling. The counselor, smug, blonde, polished, wants to send me to her husband, a psychiatrist, for drugs. “No,” I say, “my father is an alcoholic. I want talk therapy not drugs.” I am very very afraid.

Things get better.  I tell the counselor thank you. “You can’t stop now,” she says, “You must continue the counseling. Or you will have problems later on.” I go once more. She says I must keep coming. I speak to a family friend, a PhD psychologist, who encourages me to say no. I cancel. No regrets.

I am not an alcoholic. I don’t smoke. I don’t use pot nor CBD. I never tried cocaine or meth or opioids or crack. I can tell an addict by their charm: the sick people are not charming nor the people in for maintenance. The moment a person tries to charm me I wonder what they want.

The physician is wrong and cruel besides. Valium is addictive and is still overused. I could have taken the path of psychiatric medicine but I chose not to.

I will find another doctor who is less stupid and cruel. They do exist. I know, because I am one.

____________________________

Bears all his sons away

Disclaimer: I am not Native American. I am not male. I did not live here when the ships arrived. I wrote this thinking about a dream a friend told me, about a bear. So it’s the fault of a dream bear, this story.

One
I am wailing. I am crying. The Bear came today, our bear, the tribe’s bear, our Spirit.

But he didn’t just walk through camp and take fish and his tribute.

He took my son.

He walked right up to where my wife stood still, as we must when he comes, and he lifted the boy in his paws. The boy was quiet and still, he did well, he was brave, but when the bear turned to leave, he called once.

Then our bear dropped to three legs, my son in the fourth, and turned and left.

My son, my son, my heart, my joy. Spirit Bear, return him to me!

Two

We fought, argued, for a very short time. The Shaman said that if Spirit Bear wants my son, he shall have him.

He does have him, I said, but I want him back. The Shaman knew that was true. Some shook their heads and say that my son is already dead, but most agreed with me. We were on the trail nearly immediately. The bear should not be able to move as quickly as usual when he is carrying my son. I dread evidence of my son’s loss, that he will be eaten. But that has never happened, in the history, in the songs. The Shaman said as much. But neither has a bear taken a chief’s son.

Three
Spirit Bear is moving amazingly fast on three legs. He is headed for the mountains. Not a surprise. My son may get cold. But bears are warm. My son has not been eaten.

Four

We have to make camp. I am so angry that we have not caught Spirit Bear. Out of our home camp he is fair game.

We do the Bear Dance, four times. We did not bring the masks and the young men dance the women’s part and one sings the woman’s part. We made quick rough masks and costumes. The Spirits will forgive us. This is past all understanding.

What does a Spirit Bear want with my son? Four years. No one knows.

Five
Day again. I am up before dawn praying for light, for my son, to find the Spirit Bear.

Six

We are hot on the trail. We find that Spirit Bear did sleep and rest. My son is dropping beads. Smart boy. Each bead means that he is still alive and relatively unhurt.

Seven

We have spotted them. Spirit Bear stood and looked down at us, my son tucked against his side. My son very slowly raised his arm, so he knows.

Eight

We are approaching the peak. Everyone is tired from the climb and hungry and thirsty. Yet we keep going. No one complains.

Nine

We reach the peak and Spirit Bear and my son. We arm our spears and arrows, but my son shouts “No! Look!” We turn. We see the water. There is something in the water. It has tannish wings that are filled with wind. It is huge compared with our boats.

We turn to my son. He stands and Spirit Bear leaves, ambling down the mountain, quickly, gone. I hurry to my son, sweep him up. He starts shaking and then cries, leaning his head into me.

We turn and watch the tan winged thing, which is coming against the wind. It comes at an angle and then turns, to the opposite angle, yet still it comes. We know this is new and that there can be terror or joy, we do not know which. There will be learning, we know that.

My son falls asleep. We carry him down to water and camp. We are all singing quietly, the song of new things, fear and joy. The Shaman will welcome us when we are home, and we will prepare for the winged thing. We do not know what it will bring.

We thank the Spirit Bear for warning us, for telling us to prepare.

DMV

I really did not want a tour of the DMV.

I arrive early, just as they open the doors, and there is already a line. We file in, each taking a paper number. The people in front go straight up to the desks. One window processes two people in only ten minutes each and then promptly puts up a closed sign. I guess it’s exhausting, working so fast.

Everyone waiting looks strained or sullen or stressed at the DMV. Shoulders hunched, heads down, the ones in power suits on their phones, but the phones keep cutting off in the DMV. Some sort of special shielding, I would bet.

I have number 17 and get to go to a window after 2 hours.

The clerk smiles at me. She is pale, pale, but has horns and pitch black wings, no feathers, like a bat.

“Unitarian!” she says, grinning.

“Um,” I say, eyeing the wings.

She looks wicked and then her wings are classic white feathered. She is browner and well, I’d guess Filipino. “Worried?” she says.

“No.” I say. “Tired. Sad. Curious.”

“What would you prefer to see?” she says and morphs. Now she has one bat wing that changes to black feathers then through rainbow feathers, to the snowy white feathers on the other side. Her skin tone is very dark on her right hand and then lighter across to pale with red freckles on her left hand.

“Nice.” I say.

“Which heaven would you like?”

“Unitarians do not believe in hell. Send me back.”

“You just got here. Violently and by surprise.” she wrinkles her nose. “Riots again. Sorry about that. We have opened a Unitarian space.”

“No. Send me back.”

She sighs and pulls down a heavy paper file. All the papers have gold edges, except for those with black. “You found your true love.”

“Yes. So what. We didn’t have time to make it work.”

“Don’t you want to wait until she dies so you can head down at the same time?”

“No. She’s only 32. And there is work to do.”

She is paging through the file. She snaps it shut. “Two week vacation. The minimum required. Go to the door on the right.”

I sigh. I want to argue but I’ve done that before. She will add on an extra week for every word I say.

My memories are intact here. Of all the lives. It’s always a bit overwhelming when I first arrive.

I go to the door on the right. A small page with grey tattered wings opens the door for me. I think it is a boy but he is wearing a Tinkerbell style tunic.

“I am your guide today.” No, it is a girl. I think. They may be able to morph that too.

We go in the door. My guide is shedding feathers, one every few steps. I pick one up. “Sorry.” she says. “Puberty. So, where do you want to spend your two weeks?” We are in a half circle shape hall, with hallways branching off. The hallways have no end that I can see and there are open doors all along them.

“I just want to go back.”

She pats my arm absently. “Oh, yes, they told me. You have to take breaks. You are wonderful, though, we love you.” She is leading me to one of the halls towards the left. We go past two doors and to the third. “See?” she says. “Unitarians. Of course, they can come in and out and go in all the others and argue with everyone. We wouldn’t want them to get bored.”

The room is empty at the moment. “And I guess they are all in other places!” The room across the hall seems to be a classic hell, with demons and pitchforks and a grim rocky landscape with pits of burning tar. I can see a dinosaur caught in tar, and a really huge crowd of people. There is a lot of screaming.

“Some people insist.” says my guide. “Where to next? Evangelical? Valhalla is rather fun for males and certain females, we’ve got fluffy clouds and harps, or are you more interested in touring Asian, African, Australian? We do have paleolithic sites and many people are interested in Egyptian themes. The cliff dwellers interest many as well. “

“Atheist.”

She frowns. “Of course, but that room shuts down consciousness and you have to have two weeks of consciousness before you can go back.” She is leading me back into the central half hall.

“Ok,” I say, giving in. “I am not trying to be difficult, you know.”

“Yes, and everyone told me correctly that you are difficult. All the ones that go back over and over are difficult. And there are more every year.”

“Take me somewhere new, ok?” I am looking now at the frieze over the door that will take me back. Two weeks. I can manage. I am resigned. The frieze is cupids and then male odalisques, then female, then leopards, and then they are cupid fauns with horns on their heads, morphing towards adulthood. Yet the carved letters stay the same:

Deus Machina Verum

and I follow my guide into another hallway to find a place for my two weeks.

_________________________

This poem inspires me to post today’s story: https://narble.blog/2021/08/17/if-there-are-no-dogs-in-heaven/

I think the hell in heaven also fits today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: scorch.

Bears all his sons away;

I wrote this story today. I am not Native American. As far as I know, I am white, but then, I have not done any genetic testing so who knows? This was inspired by a poem of the same title: https://everything2.com/user/etouffee/writeups/Bears+all+his+sons+away%253B

One
I am wailing. I am crying. The Bear came today, our bear, the tribe’s bear, our Spirit.

But he didn’t just walk through camp and take fish and his tribute.

He took my son.

He walked right up to where my wife stood still, as we must when he comes, and he lifted the boy in his paws. The boy was quiet and still, he did well, he was brave, but when the bear turned to leave, he called once.

Then our bear dropped to three legs, my son in the fourth, and turned and left.

My son, my son, my heart, my joy. Spirit Bear, return him to me!

Two

We fought, argued, for a very short time. The Shaman said that if Spirit Bear wants my son, he shall have him.

He does have him, I said, but I want him back. The Shaman knew that was true. Some shook their heads and say that my son is already dead, but most agreed with me. We were on the trail nearly immediately. The bear should not be able to move as quickly as usual when he is carrying my son. I dread evidence of my son’s loss, that he will be eaten. But that has never happened, in the history, in the songs. The Shaman said as much. But neither has a bear taken a chief’s son.

Three
Spirit Bear is moving amazingly fast on three legs. He is headed for the mountains. Not a surprise. My son may get cold. But bears are warm. My son has not been eaten.

Four

We have to make camp. I am so angry that we have not caught Spirit Bear. Out of our home camp he is fair game.

We do the Bear Dance, four times. We did not bring the masks and the young men dance the women’s part and one sings the woman’s part. We made quick rough masks and costumes. The Spirits will forgive us. This is past all understanding.

What does a Spirit Bear want with my son? Four years. No one knows.

Five
Day again. I am up before dawn praying for light, for my son, to find the Spirit Bear.

Six

We are hot on the trail. We find that Spirit Bear did sleep and rest. My son is dropping beads. Smart boy. Each bead means that he is still alive and relatively unhurt.

Seven

We have spotted them. Spirit Bear stood and looked down at us, my son tucked against his side. My son very slowly raised his arm, so he knows.

Eight

We are approaching the peak. Everyone is tired from the climb and hungry and thirsty. Yet we keep going. No one complains.

Nine

We reach the peak and Spirit Bear and my son. We arm our spears and arrows, but my son shouts “No! Look!” We turn. We see the water. There is something in the water. It has tannish wings that are filled with wind. It is huge compared with our boats.

We turn to my son. He stands and Spirit Bear leaves, ambling down the mountain, quickly, gone. I hurry to my son, sweep him up. He starts shaking and then cries, leaning his head into me.

We turn and watch the tan winged thing, which is coming against the wind. It comes at an angle and then turns, to the opposite angle, yet still it comes. We know this is new and that there can be terror or joy, we do not know which. There will be learning, we know that.

My son falls asleep. We carry him down to water and camp. We are all singing quietly, the song of new things, fear and joy. The Shaman will welcome us when we are home, and we will prepare for the winged thing. We do not know what it will bring.

We thank the Spirit Bear for warning us, for telling us to prepare.

The Brewer’s Big Horses

This is one of the Songs to Raise Girls, songs that I learned before Kindergarten. A very weird list of songs.

This song comes from my maternal grandfather. My mother said that it was a Congregationalist temperance song….

The photograph is Morris D. Temple and his grandson, F. Temple Burling. F. Temple Burling is my maternal grandfather. I am related to Temple Pumps. According to my mother’s stories, Morris Temple was more interested in Japanese art than in Temple Pumps and the company eventually folded. I don’t know if that is true, or if it was a different Temple then Morris. However, my middle name is Temple.

This song is one that I don’t have memorized, though I know the tune. I have my mother’s handwritten lyrics, with her drawings framing it. There is a tape of my grandfather singing it in the Library of Congress, according to my mother. I would like to go listen to it some time.

I’ve copied it just how my mother wrote it out. There might be an issue about political correctness, but I have a picture of Morris Temple in the 1860s, in his civil war uniform, with a sword. You will have to wait for that post to see which side he fought for….. I presume that my mother wrote it down as she was taught it. I am not sure who talked like this in Iowa in the 1880s, but maybe it was most people.

The Brewers’ Big Horses

O, the brewer’s big horses, comin’ down de road
A totin’ along old Lucifer’s load
Dey step so high and dey step so free
But them big horses can’t run over me

Chorus:
O no! boys O no!
De turnpike’s free where ever I go
I’m a temperance ingine don’t you see
So them big horses can’t run ovah me
Repeat with “toot toot toots”

O de liquo’ men been actin lak de own de place
A livin’ off de sweat o’ de po’ man’s face
Dey’s fat and sassy as dey can be
But deir big horses can’t run ovah me

Chorus

I’ll harness dem horses to de temperance cart
I’ll hit ’em with the gad fo’ to give ’em a start
I’ll teach ’em how fo’ to haw an’ gee
So them big horses can’t run ovah me

Chorus

It took me a while to find this song on the internet. It is listed in temperance songs in wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperance_songs and is mentioned in The Christian Advocate under lyrics: The Brewers Big Horses. It is listed as written in 1913 by JB Herbert and HS Taylor. Isn’t it interesting that Budweiser still uses the Brewer’s Big Horses in advertising?

Again, this is a song I was learning way before I know what a brewer or a turnpike was. My parents stopped singing a bunch of songs when they realized that I was memorizing all of them. They did not want me singing certain songs in Kindergarten.

They did not need to worry. I shut up when I got to school, because no one wanted to sing and no one knew the songs. They all talked about television and we didn’t have one.

I was very disappointed in school. Not enough singing and it was lonely.

All the things she had at one point wanted to be

someone said

we all contain all the archetypes

which archetype do you reject?
you say no, I contain no mother no father
no murderer no priest
rich woman poor woman beggar woman thief
doctor lawyer indian chief

princess is the role I reject
as a child as a girl
fearing to be used
fearing to be taken
wanting to be mine not his
not his ever
not chattel
not property
not owned

divorcee is a role I reject
realize I scorn it
then turn my face from abuse
and embrace it fully

lonely is hard
alone is easy

what is the difference?

my uncle says
I’ve never been alone before
I’ve always been the most
important person in someone’s life before

at least he thought so

which archetype do you reject?

we all contain all the archetypes

all the stories
all the stories that we know
if the only story that we know
is of poverty and despair
and hiding and war
discrimination and hatred
while the lighted box shows happiness
elsewhere while we suffer

the arch of the rainbow
may not be a story
that can be imagined

all the stories that we know
and tell

tell

_________________________________________________________________________

I will add this to the Ragtag Daily Prompt #54: reflection. Because it fits.

 

Heart call

I am lying in bed and missing my heart.

I prayed to the Beloved to fall in love and I do. I happen to be terribly sick because the Beloved is teaching me to take time off and not just work harder and longer to avoid grieving. This is the second lesson. Or the fifth, depending on how I count it. The previous one was two months, this will be ten.

But early on, before I realize that death is standing in my doorway, I am at a picnic. A sports picnic with parents and teens and some younger children. I see a man who has been flirting with me be nice to a tween girl. My heart falls out of my chest and attaches itself to him. It follows him home.

He is quite spectacularly wrong for me. I know it but my heart doesn’t care. And he is a liar, manipulator and a slut. Familiar ground, just like my family. I go to his place and try to catch my heart, but it is stubborn and skitters away from me. It is covered with sawdust, cat hair and motor oil. Also rabbit fur. He raises bunnies for meat and kills them. I cuddle the babies and then he does too.

My heart is brutally stubborn. I tell it it is stupid, it will get hurt, he doesn’t want it, all the usual stuff. I think the Beloved is laughing at me. By January I revise my prayers. Ok, Beloved, you win AGAIN, I am STUPID, now I want NOT ONLY to fall in love but to fall in love with someone who loves me back. I am so stupid I can’t believe it.

The Beloved ignores me, since my heart is already gone. Damn it.

The man tells me a dream. He dreams that his son is stuffed inside a giant teddy bear to keep him safe. He is fighting a war alone, being shot at and shooting a multitude of enemies. He tells me that his son is trained. If he needs to come out of the bear, he will be angry and he is trained to kill. Another dream is of zombies coming up from the shop and attacking the door. He and a teen or two are trying to hold them off.

There are no women in his dreams. At least the ones he tells me.

Uh, Beloved? Shit. I dream of angels, as many angels as there are stars. I meet with my minister to challenge his ideas. “The people in dreams are aspects of ourselves, ok, but not angels right? I can’t have that many angels. I was raised atheist, damn it.”

“The angels are aspects of yourself.”

And zombies…well, we’re well matched on a psychic level, right? I have enough angels to handle any number of zombies and more.

I connect with his small child self, because our small child selves are so alike. Abandoned at the same age and afraid and with desperate courage.

His pattern is obvious from the start. Mapped out like a constellation. I tell my heart, but it scurries up ladders, into boats, down the metal stands, under cars. It plays among the tools. I tell it to be careful of the saws and tools and it ignores me.

He lies and ignores emails and lies again and avoids me when he’s done something that will hurt me and like, obvious, duh. I get angry, but my angels map a new path to his small child each time. Boundary after boundary after boundary.

And now I am in contact only by text. Only by distant virtual message. He is showing up again, of course, because that’s the pattern. He has tried so hard to make me angry and make me abandon him in rage. I don’t really care. He fixes the leak on my boat that I asked him about over a year ago. He texts about installing the bilge pump. He offers to bag up the cushions and put them in his loft.

No, I reply. I have room in my house.

The only things left at his shop are a broken outboard, pipe clamps that I inherited from my father and my heart. I will go to get them.

I lie in bed, thinking of getting the motor and clamps. I think of asking for my heart too. But he has never noticed that he had it. I didn’t tell him. It was obvious. And he didn’t want it. So why would I tell him now?

And then I think, I can just call my heart. I don’t need to go in person.

I call my heart. Come home, I say. He never noticed you. You could stay, but we have done everything we can. He is still fighting the zombies, he doesn’t know he is fighting himself. He is fighting his own feelings. Come home.

My heart comes home.

It is in my chest. Filthy, sawdust, bruised, motor oil, banged up, with old tears that I mended with ribbon and dental floss and sewing thread and artificial cat gut.

Welcome home, my heart. Welcome home.

This is for the Music Prompt #63: Daniel Powter Bad Day. I took the photograph on the train from Chicago, in the evening in a storm. Prayers for those hit by the hurricane and other disasters.

X is for xenophobic

X is for xenophobic.Have you ever felt xenophobic?

How would I know if I were xenophobic since it is an unreasonable fear or hatred? How do we tell the difference between a reasonable fear or hatred and an unreasonable fear or hatred? Or is it only other people that can tell?

From dictionary.com:

xenophobic

adjective
1.
unreasonably fearful of or hating anyone or anything foreign or strange.

Origin of xenophobic
1905-1915
1905-1915;xenophob(ia) + -ic

Contemporary Examples

    His most ardent and xenophobic political ally, Umberto Bossi, looks all but ready to bail.
 Already Vulnerable, Berlusconi Weakened by Election Results Barbie Latza Nadeau May 30, 2011

    The committee should avoid foreign ownership questions which will make them sound parochial or xenophobic or both. 9 Questions for Rupert Geoffrey Robertson July 17, 2011

The article raises repeatedly reported statements by some opposition candidates that are “bigoted and xenophobic.”  Will Scandalous Videos Topple Georgia’s President? A Rebuttal Tedo Japaridze September 23, 2012

    We are almost certainly hard coded to be xenophobic, which is why hunter gatherers often have such extraordinary homicide rates. Racism Isn’t Natural. But I Suspect Xenophobia Is. Megan McArdle October 17, 2012

    “Unfortunately these kinds of xenophobic attacks have happened in Libya before,” says Bouckaert.   Libya’s Hysteria Over African Mercenaries Babak Dehghanpisheh March 5, 2011

    Oh, and their attitudes towards Arabs and promised land are even more insular and xenophobic than most settlers. How Yair Lapid’s Gambit Ends Bernard Avishai March 6, 2013

    I started hearing rumors about xenophobic attacks in early April. Will the World Cup Start a Riot? Gretchen L. Wilson June 9, 2010

    Meanwhile, politicians like Tom Tancredo led an ugly race to the bottom to see who could be most xenophobic.    Bush Was Right Mark McKinnon April 27, 2010

Word Origin and History for xenophobic
adj.

1912, from xenophobia + -ic.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

It seems that xenophobic is something we say about other people. Not very nice of us, and judgemental.

Batman at the beach. A younger child at a party, dressing as Batman, a powerful archetype.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And he catches one of the other children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She escapes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Batman is on his own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He starts to enjoy the beach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Batman wading.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the end of the party, he takes off the hot costume. He was comfortable enough that he didn’t have to be Batman any more.

I took the pictures in 2006.