uietly, questions swirling in my mind – first among them, ‘Why am I hearing “It’s a fantabulous night for a moondance” in my head? – I let myself fall backwards to hang from the bough by my knees. Then, gripping the bough with my hands, I flipped my legs from the branch, let go, and dropped to my feet.
The Bear from the picnic and a woman, a stranger to me and my dreams, were wandering the orchard and I wanted to follow them. The full moon, augmented every few moments by the light from a lighthouse, made the prospect of keeping them in sight rather easy.
I suppose I should share what sparked my curiosity, beyond the sight of a woman walking through an apple orchard with a bear under a full moon. For one thing, the woman was gathering barren branches from the ground. Each time she chose one the Bear would say, ‘A bruised reed you shall not break,’ and the woman would answer, ‘nor broken branches forsake.’
The questions gained intensity when I realized that the Bear’s words sounded like some of the words of the prophet Isaiah, but I don’t know where I may have heard anything about ‘broken branches.’
Nor did I know why the Bear was carrying an undine – a mermaid. I will try to describe her, the mermaid. She was rather large – she would have to be to survive the embrace of a Bear – and she appeared to be dancing, her arms upraised. The Bear held the mermaid by those arms out in front of herself, tail pointing to the ground.
When I decided to trust the properties of a dream world I stepped around the Bear and touched the mermaid to discover that she felt as if she were made of iron. I could not fathom what they were doing, this woman and this Bear, with their broken branches and iron undine.
We walked in silence for some time, the beam from the light house pulsing over the landscape, until the Bear gave a low growl. Startled, I turned to see the mermaid jerkily ‘dancing’ in the Bear’s paws – and then I tripped over some loose stones and fell backward down a well.
I wasn’t hurt, just totally stunned, but that wasn’t the end of the adventure. The woman, silhouetted against the moon, called down to me from the well’s rim, “Excuse me, miss, but I wonder if I could ask you to fill these jars with water before you climb the ladder?” As she finished speaking she lowered a rope ladder into the well. “It would be a great service to me, to Us.”
She lowered a partitioned basket with a number of Mason jars inside and I went to work filling them. I was surprised to see, when I held the jars up to the moonlight, that the water was relatively clear!
Barbara Butler McCoy, text and artwork, 2012