Posted: April 23, 2014 in Chat
Tags: ,

for St George’s day












this is what he did:

he narrowed his eyes, levelled his lance,

his mouth behind his visor set;

begrudgingly to admit at last

the road now led to the lair,

and all ways out used up,

or going nowhere.

The knowing smile of the earl’s wife

tucked away for later. He uncurled

to a back-twinge, a tooth niggling:

(a back molar broken as he bit hard),

and his horse fidgeting.


With a sigh, now turned his mind

to this matter: the dark of the cave,

no hanging grasses, scented woodbine,

but mill-stone grit, a gully that gave

onto a sounding river.

Palms damp, glove seams undone,

he nudged his lance tip, a sliver

of bright sun, into darkness.

Pawing and restive his horse

snorted, snorted.


And in a turning of the cave

where light fell diffuse, the huge

bulk turned its head and gave

a look of surprise, almost human.

‘Steady!’ to the horse’s flattened ears.

‘This is just him and me now. Walk on.’

And the dragon


eyes, muzzle, ears,

crinkled to their corners; teeth shone,

then hoodied. It spoke:  “You will not kill

me, George. You know that!” His father’s voice!

A trick? He’d expected something: the chill;

reined back; his horse trotted, neighed at the voice –

‘Whoa!’ Panicky, and picked up on. “Once before

I remember this” I was five! “You were five

and Torridon could not jump. And you swore.”

We were alone. My father has betrayed me!


And again it spoke: “George, listen to me;

I said to your father, I spoke to the bishop

before he blessed you…” My god, is it she?

My mother?  He patted, stroked, to settle his horse,

‘You should not have spoken to the bishop!

This is family business!’ “You would

not listen! Not one of you.

I know you better than anyone could.

My one blessing. My only son.

You are too young.” The voice insistent,

“Too young!” ‘Mother! Don’t go on!’


‘It seems you have us all here.

Let one go free. Her in the corner!’

A shape in the cave. The dragon, winking, cleared

his throat, growled “Now listen!

I am all that makes your world.

I make all that you value, the glisten

and the glow, that is your island;

all the fortunes – and the mishaps.”

And then smiled; a little smugly perhaps.


He hitched his lance, steadied spurs, then wondered:

Could I, he thought questioningly,

Be the booby who blows it? Is it me?

He remembered all the voices he ever heard,

the friends, the busy voices of tradesmen,

the businessmen, neighbourhood women.

He heard Scandinavian, African voices,

the Asian, and the European voices.

–         These are all who made us!

His horse stirred –

‘There has to be change!’ surprised

to hear himself: ‘If not conquering,

then concessions! You,’ he hurried,

overriding interruptions,

‘have to agree. What you buried

now must be born. What are corruptions,

rebooted – what you represent,

are how it was. If I can’t kill you, dare

I then… clip your wings a little? Tear

a leg for a trophy?’

As he spoke, edged to the side slowly;

fire blared down the cave: he was safe.


And as the dragon paused to inhale

he charged, pricked its breast, blood ran:

‘I may forget myself!’ he said wildly,

and the dragon blinked, backed up a span ,

and blinked again. He was off, blade out,

paused by the flank… “What do you want?”

a whisper from nowhere, everywhere.


‘Change!’ “Change can mean defeat;

for I am everything ….” , ‘I will take

what comes, and seek concessions.  Defeat

is integration, alteration. Nothing is ever complete

without this mix.’


“And what will you give?” That voice;

that final question.

‘If she goes free, the choice is

my bones on your hearth.’




And she did, lighting her way alone,

with a Chinese lantern:

part saint, part dragon

wholly her own.

This is what she said:

“He was hoping it would just take the horse;

but no, it took them both.”




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