an epic poem by Thomas Davis
Inside her dream Wei flew through skies so blue
They seemed to vibrate with a pulsing life—
And then she was awake, the fire stoked down,
Air frigid, dark intense, more night than night.
Her mother, gleaming, sat upon her bed
And seemed to look at worlds Wei could not see.
Wei huddled in the covers, warm, content
To see her mother in her life again,
But then her mother sensed she was awake
And stood, light streaming from her sudden movement.
Her mother did not speak, but stared at her.
Behind her mother in the faint blue haze,
Vague, other figures huddled, eyes unfocused.
Wei carefully sat up, the covers clutched
Beneath her chin, her heartbeats in her ears.
Her mother waved her arm. The room’s deep cold
Seemed colder still. Wei stared, afraid.
Each time she’d seen her mother in the room
She’d not felt fear, but now a warmth spread over
Her trembling body, banishing the cold,
And in the warmth she felt as if she’d lost
The little girl she was and found a self
Not made at birth, but forged from hands that waved
A spectral light into the night’s cold dark.
She felt as if she tottered on a cliff
Above a canyon plunging down sheer walls
Toward the River Lethe far below.
Entranced, she slid from covers, stood up straight,
Heart larger than her heart had ever been.
While moving from the conclave cavern out
Into the tunnel leading to her cave,
Ssuranne felt warmth beneath her scales, a strangeness.
She stopped and felt the geas come over her,
This time so powerful it seemed to seize
Control of who she was. What now? She asked,
Her two hearts struggling against the power
That flooded deep into her brain and made
Her want to leap into the air and fly toward
The human girl’s small cottage in the dark.
She felt the witch inside the tunnel with her.
In irritation at the urgency
She felt, she forced her legs to root themselves
Into the tunnel’s floor, her exercise
Of dragon will a force against the geas.
The dragon race was fading everywhere,
But here inside the mountain, where the peace
They’d forged had held a hundred years and let
Them build community now threatened by
Sshruunak’s rage brought about by how the geas
Had shot into the conclave’s fear, they’d thrived.
What madness shattered through a dragon’s will?
The dragons’ rage had violated peace.
The dragons’ center was disintegrating,
The evolution that had caused a burst
Of eggs and dragonets now close to failing.
She felt the sadness dragging Mmirimann
Back to his cave, the sense he felt at having
His greatest triumph turn to bitter ash.
What should she do? She asked herself. The geas
Was like a cloud that danced with lightning bolts,
So powerful it took away her strength.
She was no human who the spirit world
Could enter, forcing her to do its will.
At last she sighed. She walked toward the ledge.
Unwilling, Wei walked haltingly toward
The cottage door. She was not dressed for cold,
But as her mother moved her spectral arms
And light danced in the darkness, warmth surrounded
Her body, forced the winter cold away.
Beside the door she glanced back at her mother.
Her father, fainter than her mother’s form,
Stood just behind the light her mother cast,
The love the two of them had felt in life
Now emanating out toward their daughter.
Without a thought she opened up the door
And walked onto the path she’d made with light
Into the drifts of snow and looked toward
The mountains and the night’s black, bitter skies.
The Old One sent a stream of steady flame
To clear a circle by the human girl
And flared her golden wings and touched the ground.
She felt the changing of the world she’d known,
The keening of a dragon as they fought for life
Against a horde of tiny men that shot
Their arrows further than they’d ever shot—
Their triumph singing songs of dragon death.
She felt the girl’s bright eyes, as calm as water
On pools without a breath of wind, sweep over
Her, soaking up her spirit, seeing past
Her scales into the beating of her hearts.
“You’re Wei,” she said, her voice surprising her.
The girl kept staring, drawing strength and power
From where her mother stood beside her bed.
“Ssuranne,” the young girl said, “your name’s Ssuranne.”
She sounded awed, as if she could not grasp
That she was standing in the winter snow
Without a coat or boots and hearing words
Said by a dragon only seen in skies.
The geas collapsed. Ssuranne felt free, but stood
Her ground. What did the young girl want? What caused
Her mother’s spirit’s restlessness and power?
Wei did not move, but stared, eyes soaking
Ssruanne into her memories and self.
The golden scale she’d burned into her arm
Pulsed hot and made her feel her blood spin back
Into a time when humans’ ancient power
Flowed through their flesh, their minds, their deepest selves.
The girl’s eyes stopped their searching, glanced at ground.
Ssruanne looked at the girl and saw the dragon
Inside the storm of spirits in Wei’s spirit.
There’s something new upon the earth, she thought,
And with the thought she seemed to hear a chant
That flooded her with hope and dreams and love.
Fear coursed into her blood and made her feel
As if the human girl was part of her,
As if the penetrating eyes saw cells
Inside her body like they saw her scales.
She tore her eyes away from Wei and looked
Toward where dawn was brewing early day.
She spread her wings and lifted from the ground.
To hear an oral reading of the poem, click The Meeting of Wei and Ssruanne
Note: This is the seventeenth installment of a long narrative poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on 1 to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to 16 to read the installment before this one; 18 to read the next installment,