Bear Dreamers

The Lakota said that any man who dreamed of the bear would be an expert in the use of plant medicines. —David Rockwell, Giving Voice to Bear: North American Indian Myths, Rituals, and Images of the Bear

Four warriors lie wounded. The leader of the bear dreamers sleeps in a hoop of hide while the sun circles. They wake him suddenly to make him wild, frightened, lost. His canines lengthen. Lying back down he reaches into the earth & extracts bear root. Getting up, he goes in search of a plum tree, grabs it & shakes — a rain of bruise-colored fruit. He circles the camp, bear skin over his head, brandishing a knife. His hands are painted white, his body, red. Bullets cannot kill him, steel cannot cut him, the hidden wounds cannot escape his healing claw. The other bear dreamers follow, singing. The wounded ones stagger to their feet & begin to walk.

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