free bird

Not long ago, while looking for a poem
I’d scribbled down in an old journal, out fluttered a lovingly worn and yellowed newspaper clipping entitled “Bulgaria’s Last Dancing Bears Finally Footloose.” It reports the story of the last three known captive dancing bears being ransomed and released into a sanctuary built for these regal
animals…..captured young, mistreated, shackled, and forced into unnatural positions and roles while
onlookers heckled and stared.
The oldest had performed in streets and carnivals, chains painfully piercing her nose and lip, for the past
nineteen years. The photo of this trapped creature touched me deeply. Her eyes told the story of bitter tears rusted over as they trudged down ancient cheeks grown stony with ache. Now, she and the others were set free to live out the remainder of their lives unshackled….unleashed…unfettered.
I’ve poured over this article these past seven years like a favorite psalm, letting it pull and tug at my deepest heart. Something in their story calls to the hushed places in my own soul….the swallowed lumps in my throat….the disempowered and muzzled places. And as I let love’s eyes meet mine, more of my heart is released to lumber awkwardly into the wild…….footloose.


  1. rachel awes on June 5, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    i love all your words & colors & "about me" description. you ripple deep & pretty.x

  2. Paul C on June 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    All of us deserve to be free. I can understand why this article spoke to you so profoundly. Beautiful accompanying art.

  3. LeeAnn on June 6, 2010 at 1:03 am

    What a sad story of mistreatment to these animals and then to let them free after all of these years. Even their freedom must scare them since they aren't used to it after so many years. But the great thing about freedom is it grows on you very fast.

    You write so beautifully Jennifer!

    Lee Ann

  4. Bren on June 8, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I can't even tell you how moving this piece is. Set free, how wonderful and different and glorious.

  5. Hindsfeet on June 9, 2010 at 4:24 am

    This resonated with me so deeply tonight, Jennifer…Your story *and* its corresponding photo…Absolutely echoed the cry of my helplessly hopeful heart….

    …so glad to have met you…..

  6. Hindsfeet on June 9, 2010 at 4:31 am

    Just checked out your web page….loved the writing there… absolute oasis, Jennifer……I can't tell you how timely….

    …what a gift……

  7. LeeAnn on June 9, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I am not kidding! You need to write a book. You have a special gift unlike many who can use words in special ways. Somehow, even when describing the ugliness and pain in the world, you can say it in such a way that lightens the way through. I always love the comments you leave me like the one I read today about spreading it with blackberry jam!!! Honestly girl, you need to publish.

    Thank you for your encouraging and sweet comment today.

    Lee Ann

  8. Relyn on June 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

    This is wonderful, whimsical, full of word images that make me laugh with delight.

Leave a Comment