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An Embroidery

 Rose Red's hair is brown as fur
and shines in firelight as she prepares
supper of honey and apples, curds and whey,
for the bear, and leaves it ready
on the hearth-stone.
Rose White's grey eyes look into the dark forest.
Rose Red's cheeks are burning, sign of her ardent, joyful compassionate heart.
Rose White is pale, turning away when she hears the bear's paw on the latch.
When he enters, there is frost on his fur, he draws near to the fire giving off sparks.
Rose Red catches the scent of the forest, of mushrooms, of rosin.
Together Rose Red and Rose White sing to the bear; it is a cradle song, a loom song, a song about marriage, about a pilgrimage to the mountains long ago.
Raised on an elbow, the bear stretched on the hearth nods and hums; soon he sighs and puts down his head.
He sleeps; the Roses bank the fire.
Sunk in the clouds of their feather bed they prepare to dream.
Rose Red in a cave that smells of honey dreams she is combing the fur of her cubs with a golden comb.
Rose White is lying awake.
Rose White shall marry the bear's brother.
Shall he too when the time is ripe, step from the bear's hide? Is that other, her bridegroom, here in the room?

Poem by Denise Levertov
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