The Bear’s Daughter
by Theodora Goss
She dreams of the south. Wandering through the silent castle,
where snow has covered the parapets and the windows
are covered with frost, like panes of isinglass,
she dreams of pomegranates and olive trees.
But to be the bear’s daughter is to be a daughter, as well,
of the north. To have forgotten a time before
the tips of her fingers were blue, before her veins
were blue like rivers flowing through fields of ice.
To have forgotten a time before her boots
were elk-leather lined with ermine.
Somewhere in the silent castle, her mother is sleeping
in the bear’s embrace, and breathing pomegranates
into his fur. She is a daughter of the south,
with hair like honey and skin like orange-flowers.
She is a nightingale’s song in the olive groves.
And her daughter, wandering through the empty garden,
where the branches of yew trees rubbing against each other
sound like broken violins,
dreams of the south while a cold wind sways the privet,
takes off her gloves, which are lined with ermine, and places
her hands on the rim of the fountain, in which the sun
has scattered its colors, like roses trapped in ice.
(This poem was originally published in The Journal of Mythic Arts. The image is by Boris Olshansky.)