3. The Coming of the Weirding Times

by Thomas Davis

Ruarther stopped upon a ridge, the sound
Of dragon wings behind him rising up
Into the sky, his breath so short from running
He had to kneel and gasp, too trembling
To see the golden dragon fly away.
He’d been afraid, he thought. His mouth was dry
And stomach clenched against the memory.

He failed to force himself to move for minutes
That crawled like hours as he tried to see
Why he had turned and run when flame had sprouted
Out of the female dragon’s gut into the tree.
He’d always thought that he was strong enough
To face a dragon, look it in its eyes,
And force the beast to fear his human strength.

At last he got up off his knees and looked
At skies and snow clouds massing in the mountains.
He’d been away for weeks, the game so scarce
He hadn’t even used his bow, not once.
The village needed meat. Winds gathered
And soon they’d cover mountains deep in snow,
And then the herds of deer would head downhill
And hunting would become a test of stamina
So difficult that only full-grown men
Could hope to bring home meat enough to feed
The children, women, and the older men.

The dire wolves, black with yellow, shining eyes
Would find the village too, their hunger bright
Inside their growls and nightly moonlit howls.
The harshness of the winter world would batter
The villagers and make them long for spring.

Ruarther stopped his musing, turned toward
The village, started running with a long, sure stride.
Ruanne, the girl who thought he was a fool,
Would laugh to hear he’d run from dragon fire,
Confirming what she thought of him already.
He wondered at the dragon’s curious words,
The plea to save the witching girl, the meaning
Of dragons taking interest in a human’s life.
He couldn’t let Ruanne hear of his fear,
He thought. Her yellow hair and dark green eyes
Ran with him as he jogged past tree trunks massive
Inside the forest’s twilit canopy.

As night grew out of shadows on the ground,
He stopped and built a fire. The winter cold
Walked like a forest beast whose hunger burned.
He took his blankets from his leather bag,
Edged close to where the flames danced merrily
And closed his eyes, sleep letting him forget
The dragon, witch’s girl, his fear, his dread.

Before the sun had risen over mountains
He woke. He smelled a bear. He grabbed his bow.
The world was silent. No bird song, no breeze. . .
And then he saw the bear so huge it seemed
As if it was the spawn of dragons, brown
And shaggy in the darkness, dangerous,
Eyes glowing in the moon’s dim silver light.
Its eyes looked straight into Ruarther’s eyes.
A weirding chill iced deep inside his head.

The great bear stood on hind legs eight feet tall.
It made no sound, but stared and stared at him.

And then, inside his head, a rumbling voice
Said, “Humans should beware of dragon’s minds.”
He touched his ears; he had not heard a sound,
And bears did not have speech like dragons did.

He looked around. Light crept through trees.
He thought he heard the warning of a growl,
But when he looked back at the bear, the bear
Was gone, and birds were singing to the sun.
He sensed the snow clouds not yet in the sky.

The witch’s child! He thought. The dragon, then
The bear! Strange happenings that had a pattern
As if Old Broar had cast his bones and seen
The future through his cloudy, pale blue eyes.
It had to be the witch’s child aligning
The universe against the village peace.

A smallish doe walked through the trunks of trees
Not fifteen yards away. Without a thought
He notched an arrow, let it fly at her.
She startled, leaped, crashed dead into the ground.
He’d hunted for a week, and now he’d found
His prey and felled it with a single pull.
Rejoicing started flooding through his thoughts. . .
But then, he thought he smelled the bear’s rank smell,
Felt fierceness in the coming winter storm.

He’d have to warn the villagers, he thought:
Old Broar, Ruanne, the village leader Reestor. . .
He’d have to run through several long, hard days.
Strange times were on them, weirding times.

Note: This is the third section of a long poem I am skeptical about publishing in wordpress format. The story was inspired by John Keats’ tale in his narrative poem, “Lamia,” although this poem uses blank verse rather than the rhyming couplets Keats used. Click on the numbers to read earlier sections: 1, 2, 4.

18 Comments

Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

18 responses to “3. The Coming of the Weirding Times

  1. Madamebluebell

    This was a fantastic read!

  2. I love reading the next instalment here. The imagery with the dragon is fantastic!

  3. So good! It sucked me right in when I read it. I love it. 😀

  4. This is so amazing , I love everything about it and I look forward to the next instalment! x

  5. sonjabingen

    Love it dad! Can’t wait to read the next read!

  6. dfb

    Impressive, beautiful. You’ve put so much effort into these Thomas.

  7. Well worth publishing on here I think.

    And eventually in book form I hope.

    The sort of poem which requires a comfotable arm chair, a low light and the time to be able to savour the poem.

    I have a friend who has recently published the second of two long narrative poems. I have great admiration for your and his ability to sustain the narrative in poetic format

    David

    • David, would you mind sharing the name of your friend and the title of his book?

      • His name Tom is Milner Place.
        Fascinating man – he celebrated his 82nd birthday a few weeks ago.

        His previous book length poem – ‘Odersfelt’ was published by Flux Gallery press a few years ago.
        His latest is about time he spent living in Spain. I cannot remember the title (Shame on me for I heard him read from it not long ago) However I will email him today and get back to you.
        I am sure there will be information about him on the web

        Cheers

        David

  8. Julie Catherine

    I am so addicted to this ….. and I totally agree with David; I’d love to see this published in book form – or even as an eBook. This is brilliant, Thomas, I am loving every moment of the read. I could read it over and over and never tire of it. ~ Julie

  9. Looking forward to next “chapter”. This is becoming a more intricate story with each posting – amazing writing, Thomas! And as others have said, I hope you have it published in book form someday, one way or another.

  10. Ina

    This is such a beautiful piece. Truely impressive! 🙂

  11. You have me hanging on the edge of my chair, clinging on by my fingernails! I really applaud you for posting this long narrative poem on this blog. You are doing fine with the wordpress format. The WeirdingTimes title got me going, I will have to admit! The dragon cave is what I am waiting to enter!

  12. extrasimile

    Yes, strange times indeed. I confess, long narrative poems about witches and dragons are not my thing… still, you are slowly drawing me in…and with the right illustrations it might make a nice book. I feel like I should be a my castle, high up on a cliff, a large fire burning, the kids sitting in a circle while I read the next chapter…a war in Heaven must be coming…
    (By the way, have you read Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials?)

    • I forgot, can I visit you in your castle? That sounds like fun.

      On 1/30/12, Ethel Davis wrote: > Jim, I had the pleasure of “reading” Pullman’s trilogy while driving 5 > hours to Lac Courtes Oreilles Community College from my home in > Shawano, Wisconsin on early early Monday mornings and back on Fridays > after a week’s work trying to run a college, listening to the story on > a tape recorder. I was enthralled as much for the symbolism and > metaphor as by the story. It kept me entertained for many long > months. We’ll have to see how this comes out. Hopefully I won’t > disappoint you or myself. > >

  13. The story is fantastic and so are the words. Beautiful.

  14. Thomas I am thrilled that you decide to share this despite your misgivings to do so.I’ve followed this from the 1st post and I’m enthralled by the spell you weave .I’d love to see this in a book ,perhaps with others you may have sitting in your minds corridors.This is one I’ll come back to time and again~ Selena

  15. Tom,

    Milners other book is called ‘The City of Flowers” published by Spout Publications in 1998.

    It is about his time in Cordoba

    David

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