53C98672-864F-4F71-A0CF-F5F43EAABC3EWhen bear came to evict me
I was almost ready to surrender

I knew there were new stages
I needed to be on/in
new abodes to inhabit

But what I never told you
or any one
but grandmother spruce
and the swamp lanterns hugging
the shoulder of the creek
that lent me flow

was I’d had an argument
with the gods
of love and fate

I’d had an argument with everyone

when the cold rains thundered
I thundered in return
my most furious curiosity
asking the age old questions

I made demands, I made myself
a fool, fierce and wet

I knew bear was coming
for he’d been arriving for some time

In my dreams
when he gave me a spring kiss
on the snout
and a winter warning
from the forest edge

I wobbled and froze in fear

He blessed me on the river,
and I stepped inside his fur
teaching me to shapeshift
under summer suns

and now, in my home, which was his first
we caught each other’s eyes
and I finally surrendered
as we came out of hibernation.

I’m becoming a bear
and I will be devoured
by a bear
at the end of this in-breath
this love-bud
this finger-wide moment

The puncture I gladly accept—
Not only accept but celebrate
as a fang of love.

For he, this great teacher,
fulfills his purpose

alongside River
and the OakSong of Old
beside Eagleworm and SisterOwl
and the delicate melody of Moon and Thrush
the hide and seek of Fox
the stealth of Bobcat

I won’t be found dying
without my purpose punctured

There is no escape—He is wild
and I am drunk on civilization

I accept my glorious annihilation.

He Intends To Devour Me

D3724ABF-B55C-43CD-82C3-8646506772BFHe appears in my dreams—
in the spring I kiss the grizzly on the snout
our eyes meet and I am blessed.

But in the winter he charges me from the forest edge.

And I know there is no escape:

He is wild and I am drunk
on civilization.

I wobble and then freeze in fear—he intends to devour me.

I accept my glorious annihilation.

It is the same bear.

And he is me.

Suddenly, A Bear

FC6C025E-AC0E-4315-9602-974D7E83898DCrooked trail, glint of sun
wild flowers and the wind—
Suddenly I was a bear.

I knew I was a bear
because when I went to the creek to drink
my hands were paws, wet with liquid mountain
sharp in claw.

From a snout distinctly not my own
unfurled a long pink tongue.

But I tell you, the day was warming up
the water tasted good and fresh
so I lingered as a bear by the creek
sniffing the sundry sun-dried scents on the wind.

I had no names for them.
I had no names for anything, so I lingered yet more.

If there’s such thing as bear-thinking
it’s a gigantic knowingness
a granite certainty
a muscular intimacy
with the mountain and its landscape of aromas
its overflowing and lupine laziness.

Signaling the anchoring of the day
the dark ridge leaned its broad shoulders into the light.

As my bear awareness shrunk
I could feel a dimming.

I began to retract my claws
pull in my hair
shorten my nose and a tail.

And once again I stood as a man
on a crooked trail
with wildflowers and a wild wind
carrying scents of pine and Sierra duff
wild onion and sweat
and the hint of something ursine
sharp and familiar.


Swing Me Through the Sky

eagle artMouse learns to fly
by being consumed by the eagle

Giving her eyes
as gifts of compassion
for the wounded ones

The final pain is a song
from the jugular
released by the talon—
the irresistible grip

*  *  *  *  *

Trust the pain
and sprout wings in the dark

You’ve been here before

Oh beautiful death
swing me through the sky
and teach me to see colors

How sweet surrender can be

-Ryan Van Lenning

We recently did a Nature Art activity as part of Wild Nature Heart Emergence weekend and this is what wanted to be expressed through me, though I had different plans: Eagle/hawk made with pine cone, twigs, lichen, rocks, bark, and mushroom caps.

I have been having interesting and mysterious raptor experiences for several months now, especially with peregrine, eagle, owl, and red-shouldered hawk, both physically and in dreams. It started with a strikingly vivid and powerful dream of what I call rainbow eagle, the night before I guided a wilderness trip. Most recently it has been raptor energy manifesting through my body and vision. And there’s something about the predator-prey relationship (in particular mouse and rabbit) that has been archetypally showing up.