Bear Spirit

Today I remembered seeing a Native Man with long braids and no shirt holding tobacco in his hands praying over a bear on the side of the road in Fort McMurray many years ago. I remembered this as I drove through the Northern Forest alone after putting 10.00 in my car praying I'd make it to Muskoday. As I turned the corner I saw this huge bear lying in the ditch. I couldn't stop but as I drove I burned sweet grass and offered tobacco giving thanks for the medicines and prayers this great bear carried throughout its life on Mother Earth. I felt bad because I was too afraid to stop, turn back, and offer the prayer properly. As I drove it was hard enough for me to be travelling as a woman alone with no cell signal through the forest. Experience has taught me that safety is paramount. I took comfort in recalling my aunt Eileen's words "when you're driving and must pray, hold the tobacco, say your prayer, once the tobacco leaves your hands, it's okay..." She told me this when I expressed my concern over all the animals I've seen in my journeys. I've decided to also write a small poem in honour of the bear I saw...

"I saw you there
Your final rest
Your great paws
Upon your breast

While the sun shone
With spring day smells
My eyes did rain
As teardrops fell

I give great thanks
Tried honouring you
Wishing some day
All the people knew

What courage you held
In your huge heart
On this sad day
Our mother you did part

For those of us
Who do see you
Your tears will shine
On mornings dew

Farewell my brother
I'll not soon forget
The day I was born
Is when I first met

The lodges that stand
Hidden deep in our mind
Someday they'll be open
Our way we'll find..."


-© Simone McLeod, May 2015


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