Breath of the Bear

The Great Bear ambled slowly along, enormous muscles rolling in a mountain of fur. Slowing, slowing, she stopped. She stood there, head hanging low, breathing hoarsely, heavily.

Between breaths there was silence.

Breath by breath the silence lengthened, until finally the Great Bear lay down and rested her head softly on her paws. Her chest lifted gently and gently fell and then was still. Still and silent.

A Fall breeze blew. A fly landed on the bear's body, and then so did another. Hundreds of shiny green and shiny blue flies covered the bear, intermittently taking flight all at once in crescendos of buzzing.

Beetles arrived -- carrion beetles, outfitted in purple elytra and sunflower carapaces. They ate fly larvae and laid beetle eggs. Tiny mites crawled off their backs and feasted on egg of fly, even as thousands of new flies emerged from the bear's body and flew away. Rove beetles with massive jaws crawled under the bear's heavy mantle. The mantle sagged and dropped. In time the fur disappeared, consumed by moth larvae, as ants and tiny bacterial beings polished the bones.

Snow fell, draping the bones and blanketing the fallen leaves.

A Spring rain melted the snow and loosed a rainbow upon the sky. Green seedlings poked up around the bones. Buds formed on the bones like buds on a tree, and from them sprouted leaves and twigs. Birds sang.

Along the bones the twigs grew into branches, and from these branches exploded foliage, richly green. Flowers bloomed in yellow and in white. Butterflies and bees flitted from flower to flower, and birds darted among the branches.

Slowly, imperceptibly, the bones of the Great Bear stood. Her leafy greenery filled the canopy of the forest. She breathed, and her branches swayed. A butterfly glided on her breath.

(Written on April 14th, 2006.)


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