The Bear that Swallowed the Moon

Mei moves with her family to the hinterlands,
where cold gods reign, and colder climes draw
hoarfrost on her coal black hair, this is the
first time the girl, barely a young woman, has
seen snow. The peaks of the mountains are like
icicles piercing the sky, and at night, the moon
is the brightest she has ever seen, like a bright
silver coin, nestled at the crest of the ridges.
One night, the bear that swallowed the moon comes
and bids her “Ride my back, Mei. I am Bei Ling,
the Moon Incarnate, and I shall show you the
majesty of my frozen kingdom.” It is a wooing
of love, and Mei climbs aback the bear and
they rush through pine and red panda up the
slope, in his throat is the lunar disc, shining
every time he growls or opens his mouth to speak
in a tongue not human, but bestial, and that night
Bei Ling digs her a bed of snow and moss, and she
sleeps on his breast, white fur like a blanket,
and the moon in his gullet warms her. “Bei Ling,”
Mei says the next day, riding his star crossed
back, “should not the moon belong to everyone.”
Bei Ling grunts with laughter. “Then I would be
but a man, not the Bear Moon of the Mountains.”
But there is a look in Mei’s eyes like a promise,
so Bei Ling spits out the moon and it sails away,
to crest those mountains he used to reign over,
and then he is tan skin and a cloud of black hair,
he looks down at opposable thumb and bipedal leg
and Mei gives him a blanket to cover his nakedness.
Bei Ling laughs mightily “To give up immortality
for the woman I love, who would have thought a girl
would change the mind of the Moon Bear.” And they
kiss, and they set off to plant dreams across the
world, and sometimes he is Bear Moon, but mostly,
just Bei Ling, the man who swallowed the night,
fell out of the stars for but a girl, and into
love.

Advertisements