The Winter of Dreaming Bears


The Winter of Dreaming Bears

It began with grubs,
which the bears felt, instinctively,
were the hub
of the universe.

Bears always dream at least a little
of grubs,
but this was a winter of
false starts, faked ends,
and the slips from freeze to thaw,
from thaw to bone
the drips that sharpened into ice picks, then melted
to mud-dulled pools, unmanacled
the bears from their annual
mummification, nudged them
into a snail’s swim, where their ursine minds churned,
overturning remembered stones, snouts
salivating, paws miming a scratch
for those whose burrows they could surely feel
in their fur.

While the grubs, also disturbed
by the fits and starts of
damp, stayed far
from bear furrows, funneled deep
into earth and root–though neither did these sleep,
as trees upended by wind and mud mooned
the mountainsides, discs of rootball
sheared—moving the grubs, in a mote
of wriggle, to dream too,

Only the grubs–they dreamed
of the dead; a corpse–be it rotted wood
or bird or mammal–a kind of copse to them, their homeland, godhead,
creating Brahma–

And the dead–what did they dream of?
They will not say; we can’t
surmise–only that when we walk the laced snow pierced
by persistent grasses,
under a sky heavy with new powder turning
to sleet, we like to believe that their sleep
envelopes us, that we too animate
their wintering subconsciousness,

for the dreams of bears do not only
house grubs, the hub
of their universe,
but apples whose rounds shine nearly
within their reach, skies that stretch beyond it;
the dreams of bears smelling
of stars and musk, desire and
bared earth, the dreams of bears,
like so many, following the steps
of a dark, warm, gambol.


A freshly written poem (I’ll call it a draft of sorts only because it’s quite new and I’m still editing it) for Kerry O’Connor’s wonderful prompt on With Real Toads to write a version of a chosen title.  In this case, the title I used was The ________ of Dreaming _________ (from The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moer.) (I’m afraid to confess I haven’t read the book.) 

The watercolor above is by Jason Martin.  (Unfortunately, my reproduction of it is a little askew, but it’s a very cool painting.)  

PS I have edited since first posting. 


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32 Comments on “The Winter of Dreaming Bears”

  1. This is absolutely perfect.. the bears and grubs and dead.. what a circle.. and that end which tells me that i would like to be hibernating like a bear. Wonderful.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Bjorn–i was thinking of being the subject of the dead’s dreams–but changed that at the end–and am not sure about it==I liked the idea of the wintering subconscious, but how we like to think of the dead thinking of it–before I had something like “we too animate the dreams of the dead-” but this seemed more open, less narcississtic–I don’t know though–am awfully tired at this moment–had the pleasure of guests and a very challenging walk–but tired–k.

      On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 2:40 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  2. brian miller Says:

    i will say, biting into a grub is one of the most disgusting things…the pop and ooze…i wish i could winter like a bear and dream of apples…not grubs…and hopefully not the dead…though they make a fine home for many a worm and bug…and i guess we all need a home…and a dream….

  3. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I love your winter pallette of poetry. Here I was intrigued by the ideas of dreaming bugs and dead and especially the bears. With winter as a metaphoric death developed throughout, you have created a thought-provoking piece. Your title is so beautiful.

    I picked up the Moers’ book at a book store in an out of the way arty town. A lucky find for a lover of quirky tales.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Hey Kerry, thanks. I will look for it. I have such eye issues, I find that it is good to read on a kindle–I miss real books, but it is just much easier for me–and embarrassingly convenient–though I miss browsing stores. Thanks for the great prompt. k.

      On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 3:40 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  4. I LOVE this winter of dreaming bears. Love the slug’s perspective too………and your closing stanza, especially, is a delight to read. LOVED this poem so much!!!!!!

  5. Oh! That is quite an intriguing way to start… and what follows is all the more fascinating.
    The palindrome of dreams is mesmerizing. My favorite bit has to be this: “we like to believe that their sleep/envelopes us, that we too animate/their wintering subconsciousness”.

    And a great closing stanza as well. It has become one of my favorites by you. Read it thrice already. 🙂

  6. p.s. I have seen the movie Life of Pi and ADORE it……..the moment at the end where the tiger looks back….? reminded me of Pup. I cant seem to find your email addy.

  7. Kenn Says:

    There is just so much detail in this poem that I don’t even know where to begin to comment on it. I really enjoyed the earthy tone in which you conveyed this wonderful story about bears. I particularly liked the part towards the end where you mention shining apples being dangled in front of the bear. It reminded me of the idea that we have ample opportunities perched right in front of us, and all it takes is for us to grab that moment. Some people just sit there and don’t even bother, but it is good to take a leap of faith. Not anything extreme mind you, but at least a nudge in the right direction would be an excellent start to every day.

  8. Grace Says:

    I always find it amazing you can write of such topics as grubs and bears during winter ~ I am struck by the imagery of hibernating bears dreaming of musk and stars, desire & bare earth ~ A fresh perspective, thanks K ~

  9. The winter is felt strongly in this piece, and it conveys the image of death very well… I love your image of “overturning remembered stones” –yes, stones can be remembered and overturned.

  10. I like this question, “And the dead–what did they dream of?” Thoughtful write.

  11. ds Says:

    I love the dreams of bears. And the juxtaposition of grub/hub, unmanacled (!)/annual, corpse/copse. So clever and so profound. We should all dream as bears. Thank you.

  12. What dreams may come. The living live on death it seems whether bear or grub. Love it!

  13. hedgewitch Says:

    This is both a delight, a musing, and a harrowing of that old field death, which comes for us all in its own winter, yet also provides for the dreams of grubs, and thus, bears. A lovely interplay here with corpse and copse, all the short ‘u’ sounds, ursine, burrow and grub and murmur, make for a liquid feel, and the closing is just spot on, uplifting, both in the traditional sense and in that strain of effort with which we lift a shovelful of snow, satisfying and purposeful. My favorite line is “as trees upended by wind and mud mooned/the mountainsides..” what a cool image! I’m so glad you wrote for this , k–you have given us a wonderful poem here.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks–I wondered a lot about that line, which is, of course, a bit comic–but seemed okay in that some of the poem is a little light. But it is also accurate in terms of moon like. These roots do come out in big flat discs like that–and there seem to be a lot of them these days–they are so strange as they are so very very dry. Even in the snow, etc, they seem to be quite desiccated–something about the torn fine filaments of the roots and the crumby kind of soil that sticks to them that doesn’t collect water on its side. I didn’t think to post a picture, but I think I took one, or was going to at one point. Thanks much. k.

      On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 9:21 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • hedgewitch Says:

        Yes, that’s because they don’t generally fall over till all that you are seeing is mostly dead–incapable of holding any moisture, though of course the big roots don’t do much work anyway, it’s the fine root hairs that absorb moisture and nutrients–if they are dead, then the whole plant starts dying. It suggests to me some disease, but it could be old age or drought of course or some other climatic thing. Anyway, I think it was no more comic an image than it was an instant and very effective visual, and was quite in keeping with and on the same high creative level as the rest of the poem..I really like this one, if you can’t tell. ;_)

        PS It sucks that wordpress doesn’t let you jump back to reply on their comment notifications any more. I always liked that feature.

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Yes, I may end up even switching to blogger. I made up the outlawyer name as a silly joke and never used it because I didn’t much like it and now it is increasingly my moniker because it is too hard to go back and forth. Crazy.

        Anyway, that is interesting to know re the trees. The climate change is already hard on some–we have many (planted) balsams dying – old old trees though but the hemlocks for now seem okay. The ones I write of are deciduous, but they are so dry that they must as you say have been dead. Thanks for the info. Am gratified that you like the poem. k.

        On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • ManicDdaily Says:

        ps–I didn’t really intend for the image to be comic–I was just aware that some would interrupt it that way. I am amazed how many people seem to really dislike grubs! Or not dislike! But find them unpoetic! But maybe I have an unusual sympathy for grubs! k.

        On Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 12:23 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • hedgewitch Says:

        Grubs are my chickens’ favorite things. ;_)

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Ha! I think they are quite nutritious. k.

        On Wed, Jan 21, 2015 at 12:16 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  14. Helen Says:

    Here I sit, imagining high and low tides are the hubs of the Universe! This is an amazing write ~~~ and I read “Nice” yesterday, second time. How you ever got into the minds of brother and sister I will never know!

  15. Bears, dreams, grubs and dead… what a terrific write!

  16. margaret Says:

    This poem brings the winter earth to life in a way I’ve never imagined before! … dreaming grubs – not there is a thought I’ve never thought of before.

  17. […] for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt on Real Toads to use three of one’s own titles.  I’ve used the winter of dreaming bears, night mare and post […]

  18. […] this revised for Brendan’s prompt on Real Toads about dreams.  The earlier version may be found here.  The pic is mine; all rights […]

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