Inside the cottage Ruanne sat as sunrise
Beside her loom and rocked the rocking chair
So slightly that it hardly seemed to move.
Old Broar and Reestor sat beside her waiting,
Their nervousness at weirdness burned
Into their eyes and drawn, pale hunter’s faces.
Ruanne let thoughts drift outward, fleeing light
Toward the mountains rising in the west.
The only time she’d let her thoughts drift west
Was when she’d been distracted or was close
To sleep and inbetween awake and sleep.
For years she’d forced her mind to shy away
From songs vibrating deep inside her bones.
As morning light intensified and spread
Across her flagstone floor, she saw Crayllon,
The witch, stare at the villagers as one,
And then another, picked up heavy stones
And threw them at her and her tiny child
Who wailed despair at rage and cruelty.
Crayllon had stood her ground, disheveled, rage
Distorting who she was, and held the girl
Behind her plain black skirts as she was hit
And bloodied on her arm and then her face.
Her husband newly dead, accused of forcing
A man who’d loved her all her life to die,
She’d stood as silent as the stones that bruised
Her flesh and spirit, cut her off from people
She’d lived with all her life. Her witchery,
Inherited from parents who helped to end
The wars for Clayton through their dragon-talking,
An evil that the village could not tolerate.
Grim words had sealed her fate through innuendo.
This even though her husband’s wounds had come
From dire wolves chanced upon while hunting goats.
He was too strong to die, his kin had said,
Their grief as bitter as their lives had been.
His wife had caused his death. She was a witch.
She had to die, and so they’d used their tongues
To brew a storm that led to men with stones
Hurled with excitement at a woman, child,
Themselves, their fears, the village’s ruined heart.
Inside her trance Ruanne lost where she was.
Her vision burned into her young child’s mind.
She’d never be a witch, she thought. Not her.
She’d be a village woman safe from stones.
Old Broar had been the one that stopped the madness.
He’d stepped between the witch and grinning men
And made them hesitate and told the witch
To leave, to save her child, to keep the village
From doing what would stain its spirit black,
And somehow, standing there, he’d backed the men
And women spreading lies into retreat
And let Crayllon flee to the mountain peaks.
She startled in the rocking chair. Chills ran
Along her arms and made her want to flee
Away from chaos pounding in her head.
The dragon song she’d felt before had throbbed
With harmonies that shimmered, colored dancing.
Fear, rage, regret, intensity, confusion,
Cold calculation, desperation stopped
Her rocking, made her rigid as a spire
Of stone shot up into a storming sky.
Old Broar and Reestor felt the storm she faced
And blanched, their fears alive inside of them.
Their bodies made them want to get up, flee
Into the wilderness away from what
Was pummeling Ruanne, assailing her.
They had to reach into their deepest selves
To sit and watch their young friend face her storm.
An ancient spirit felt Ruanne and stared
Into a human that she’d never thought would brave
The huge immensities inside her mind.
Ruanne felt fear rise up as if a stream
Had overflowed its banks and swept all life
Before it as it dominated earth.
The dragon seized control of who she was
And forced herself to calm and said inside
Herself, “We do not want another war.”
And then Ruanne saw where a long, dark ridge
Rose out of endless fields of drifted snow
And saw Ruarther by a fire, his face
So hideous with burns from dragon fire
She cried out in the silent room and made
The two men get up from their chairs, their hearts
Contesting wills to keep them in the cottage.
The dragons’ calm washed through Ruanne and let
Her feel herself again. She looked at Reestor,
Despair at what she’d seen so strong and urgent
She dropped the dragon song and felt a panic
That seemed to make her life irrelevant.
Her eyes were raw with tears streaked down her cheeks.
“Ruarther’s burned by dragon fire,” she said.
“The war’s begun. He made the war he wanted,
And soon its fires will sweep out of the caves.”
Old Broar looked at her frightened eyes and forced
Himself to smile. “You touched a dragon’s mind,”
He said. “You didn’t die. We have a way
Of telling them we do not want more war.”
Grim, Reestor moved and took Ruanne into his arms.
“We’ll find him. He won’t die out there,” he said.
Ruanne’s eyes filled with tears. “I love him. Damned,”
She said. “I love him even though he’s crazy,
Concocting senselessness endangering
The people that he thinks his deeds protects.”
Outside the children started shouting, laughing
As morning started up life’s old routines.
To listen to this section click on Touching a Dragon’s Mind.
Note: This is the eighteenth 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 17 to read the installment before this one. Click 19 for the following section.