I have come to the place,
in the Great Smoky Mountains,
atop Clingmans Dome,
where bears once danced before
the winter snows fell,
before the bears left the forest
to hunt new foods and sniff out
vacationers who camped in tents,
before paved highways and road crews,
before 11 million people descended on this park.
I dream of a time
when only the sun broke the morning sky,
when a mystical purple lake appeared,
full of fishes of all colors, paw prints
everywhere on the sand, and
swarms of birds rising up in the sky.
Let me sit down by such a lake,
deep purple with healing,
inside my own vision to dance
with the bears.
This poem was inspired by a hike up to the top of Clingmans Dome today and a story in a Great Smoky Mountains Association brochure about the enchanted lake of Atagahi, a place sacred to the Cherokees and a place where bears once danced.