The above image comes from The Gathering. The young man on the right is a very young James Weaselgrease (to use my son’s steampunk performance name). He is the child in this story who Salamandra rescues and to whom she gives her bear.
James Weaselgrease and the bear
She gave me this small toy bear
Torn, battered, restored with care
Softness in my open arms
Best of magic, best of charms.
Old toy bear to ward off fear
Wonky face and sewn up ear
Damaged but not yet destroyed
Comforting, my spirits buoyed
Courage with a messy face
Saved, repaired and full of grace
Saw who I could choose to be
Found the hope to uplift me.
Nights are long and dark and grim
Demons tear us limb from limb
Days are cold and grim and grey
Much to steal your life away.
Even in the darkness, light
Find the means to live and fight
Fill this time with something good
Do the best, the most we could.
In each tiny action seek
Kindest ways, protect the weak
Every chance there is for joy
All your wits and strength deploy
She gave me this bear to hold
Ease my fear and make me bold
Do for others what I can
And this is how my work began.
Image at the top by Tom Brown, poem by Nimue, bear by Dr Abbey.