How the sandman got his start

It was well into the winter. 

The mountain snow was getting deep. 

All was still in the winter chill,

Save a bear who just couldn’t sleep. 

He tossed and turned in his big bed. 

Restlessness seemed his plight.

It was getting late to hibernate

And sleep was nowhere in sight. 

He had tried all the tricks he could think of,

Counting sheep, counting backwards and more. 

His head started to ache as he laid there awake,

When he heard what he thought was a snore. 

It was coming from somewhere inside his cave –

Which was of concern to the bear, of course. 

He got out of bed, nightcap on his head

And began his search for the source.  

Just down the hall of his warm cozy cave,

He found a smallish, content-looking fellow,

Sleeping quite sound, huddled there on the ground,

With a quilt and a silk-covered pillow. 

In a ball by his side lay a small fuzzy lamb,

Like a snowball starting to melt.

With an odd rapport, the sheep echoed the snore

Of his friend snoozing under the quilt.

“Uhum” the bear said, clearing his throat,

But the fellow didn’t appear worried.

The bear tried it once more. Then he let out a roar.

Under the quilt the lamb scurried.

Composing himself the fellow stood up,

He was jolly and puckish and plump.

He said with a grin, “I’ve been sleeping again.”

The bear grunted the grunt of a grump.

“It’s plain to see why. Your cave is so snug,

Just right for an afternoon doze,

So warm and so quiet.  We just had to try it.”

From the quilt poked a timid sheep nose.

“Dozing indeed,” the tired bear groused.

Then he shifted from ire to reason.

“While you and your sheep fell right asleep.

I’m missing hibernation season.”

“Let me guide you in going to sleep,” said the man.

“I’m quite a good sleeper you’ll find.”

Hand-in-paw he led the bear back to his bed.

The timid lamb followed behind.

“Now clear your mind, save one happy thought.

Feel your muscles begin to release.

Breath deep and slow.  Let worries go.

Until all that is left is peace.”

The bear replied bluntly, “What if I can’t...”

But the fellow whispered softly, “Good night.”

From out of his hand, he sprinkled some sand,

And the bear was out like a light.

The bear awoke with a stretch the next spring,

And climbed out of bed to get dressed.

Rubbing sleep from his eye, he remembered the guy

Who gave him his long winters rest.

He decided right then he would find the chap --

The sleepyhead and his pet sheep.

And sure as you may, in a great stack of hay,

He found both of them soundly asleep.

“Rise and shine,” the bear chided lightly,

Rousing the fellow awake, then the lamb.

“I don’t know what you did, but I slept like a kid.

You can’t imagine how grateful I am.”

“It was my all-time best hibernation.

You have a quite a gift I would say.”

The fellow was spry with his simple reply,

“It became a gift when I gave it away.”

News of the fellow who helped summon sleep

Spread like a mighty earthquake.

It was great news for those unable to snooze,

Like one owl who was always awake.

“I haven’t slept in years,” said she.

There was weariness in her eyes.

“Sleep’s what I need, but I sit up and read --

That’s how I became very wise.”

He instructed her as he had the bear,

To clear her mind and breathe and stuff.

With a flash of the sand, as if on command,

The owl drifted to sleep, sure enough.

Upon waking, the owl told a rabbit,

Who told a fox, who told an old hound.

The dog told a bird who passed on the word.

Soon the “sandman” and lamb were renowned.

Animals from all through the forest

Sought them wherever they rested --

Next to a creek or on a steep mountain peak.

And the man always helped as requested.

There was a secret to the sandman’s work --

He unearthed it back in the bear’s cave.

Sleep, understand, was not in the sand,

It was in the council he gave.

“Clear your mind, save one happy thought.

Feel your muscles begin to release.

Breath deep and slow.  Let worries go.

Until all that is left is peace.”

“You’ve got a special gift,” people told him.

His reply was humble and swift.

“Its not special, per se, until I give it a way.

That’s when a talent turns into a gift.”


Jon lentz   2001