He woke as groggy as he’d ever felt
In all his life, miasma thick inside
The copse and deep inside his self.
The fire he’d built was smoldering as light
Crept through the branches to the snowy ground.
He forced himself to sit, then slowly stood,
The weirding powerful enough to change
The way the trees stood as he tried to find
His balance in a universe that seemed to roll
As if the land had waves beneath its soils.
I have to kill the witch’s child, he said
Into a wilderness that did not hear.
He bent and carefully picked up his bow
And sheaf of arrows, then walked warily
Out of the copse into the fields of snow
That climbed toward the mountains and the green
Of pines that snaked between the dark cliff rock.
He had to orient himself toward
The cabin where the witch had made her home,
But then felt better as he slowly made his way
Across the blinding fields of crusted white.
A half mile from the copse he felt a wave
Of nausea sweep through his body, hands
He could not see opposed to letting him
Continue on the path he’d set himself.
The witch, he thought. She’d died. The dragon said
She’d died, but she had used the spirit bear
To forge a link out of the chaos wild
With death and nothingness and willed his will
To falter as she made the universe before
Him toss and turn into a whirling wall.
How could I know what’s going on? he thought.
And then he saw the spirit bear refracted
Out of his walking body on the snow.
His arm hair stirred with skin that tingled fear
Into the coldness of the snow and light.
He’d lost the battle that he’d thought he’d won.
He’d sent the bear into the nothingness
Out of the who of who he was, the man,
But now he was Ruarther and the bear.
He was a monster walking on the earth.
He looked again and felt the shadow bear
Beside him as he walked across the snow.
What should he do? he thought. What could he do?
The witch and bear were locked in mortal combat,
And he was in the center buffeted
By forces greater than mortality
Could hope to face and still survive intact.
Ruanne froze as her hand reached for a nail.
A vertigo so powerful it stunned
Her made her freeze upon the steep sloped roof
Where she was working on a shelter made
To hold a bowman who could shoot his arrows
At roaring dragons with a hope he’d live
When claws or fire came raking from the sky.
The voice that filled her mind was not the voice
Of Mmirrimann, but even larger, singing
With powers amplified by centuries
Of dragon elders taking care of dragons
In spite of all the awful human/dragon wars.
The dragon looked at her, evaluating
The woman that she was, and sighed so deeply
The sigh seemed dredged from all eternity.
“I am Ssruanne,” the dragon slowly said.
The golden dragon’s eyes blinked twice, and then
Ruanne was in the fields of blinding snow.
Ruarther, sheltering a spirit bear
Much larger than his body, eyes as red
As blood inside his veins, stood stunned, his life
Undone by knowing that he’d let the bear
Inside of him in spite of what he’d thought he’d done.
Without a thought Ruanne screamed out, “Ruarther!”
The village workers stopped their preparations
For dragon war and stared at how she stood
Upon the roof, her body aimed toward the mountains.
Ssruanne conducted all the power streamed
Into Ruanne’s wild cry toward Ruarther.
She shattered through the whirling chaos dancing
In waves around the hunter’s muddled head.
Ruarther felt a wave of raging love
Slam at the spirit bear inside of him.
He felt the bear’s fierce spirit spit a spume
Of hatred at the cry that pierced it like
An arrow singing from Ruarther’s bow.
He stood up straight. The winter air was clear
Of all the whirling that made the morning
Miasmic, filled with chaos, hatred, loss…
He felt as if he’d found himself and shrugged
The forces centering into his body out
Into a universe he could not know or see.
He looked toward the mountains, and the trees
He’d not seen lost inside the cold miasma.
He felt as if he was a child at night
Who was alone as dire wolves howled their hunger
Toward the darkness of an unseen moon.
A mile away a small stone cabin stood
Alone inside a wilderness that seemed alive
With songs too powerful for stone to silence.
He felt as if he’d starved himself for days.
He knew he’d reached the cottage that he’d sought
So angrily and single-mindedly.
He could not see the witch’s child outside,
But smoke was rising from the cottage fireplace.
He knelt down on the snow and took an arrow
And notched it on the bow’s taut, ready string.
He’d show the golden dragon that his heart
Was strong enough to mock her dragon fire,
He thought. He’d found the witches’ child she’d tried
To make him save from winter’s deadly storms.
To listen to this section of the epic, click on Vertigo and the Moment of Truth
Note: This is the thirty-third section of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. 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 Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Mmirrimann Inside the Conclave He Called to go to the section previous to this one.