a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis
a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis
an epic poem, The Dragon Epic, by Thomas Davis
Ruarther struggled to his feet confused, his head
A swirling pit of vertigo that made
Him feel as if he’d left the world and found
A state of being where the dead and living
Danced crazily between reality
And purgatory’s gray, miasmic void.
The sun was going down, and as he thought
About the spirit bear and how its strength
Had battered him, attempting to possess
The self he knew was who he’d always been,
He also knew the night would rage with cold
And threaten him with all the swirling mass
That made it difficult for him to stand.
He had to find a sheltered place to build
A fire or else not see another dawn.
At last he stood, a tottering old man
Whose will to live was interlinked with rage
Against a child he’d never even seen.
The thought that he had never seen the child,
Who plagued him like a meme, caught in his head
And echoed from his thought into his breath.
Disquiet made the swirling chaos sing.
He felt his body weave as if a wave
Flowed underneath the snow, unsteadying
His capability to stand upright.
He had to move, he thought. Before he fell.
He took a step toward the mountains, paused,
Then forced another step, the day’s last light
So blinding that he turned his head away.
Out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed
A copse of pines dark in the sunset’s fire.
He changed direction, stumbled awkwardly
Across the hard-crust snow toward the pines.
And then he stopped. He felt the spirit bear
Inside the murkiness in front of him.
The bear was in the void, a monstrous shape
That had no form, but whirled into a wind
That was no wind, a shape that struggled through
A turbulence that formed a boundary
Against its will and need to be alive.
Ruarther braced himself to feel the strength
The bear could batter at his grasp of self.
The bear had healed his body. Now it stalked
Him as he tried to find a place to start a fire.
The turbulence grew larger as it swirled,
But then it disappeared as if its winds
Had flashed into the void, the bear’s dark home.
There was no sense the witch was near to where
Ruarther forced his legs to move again.
He concentrated on the copse of pines
And lost the sense of fear he’d felt for days.
He felt as if a weight had been removed.
He touched the bow inside its case and smiled.
He stopped again. Above the mountain peaks
A black dot flew toward him through the air.
He felt malevolence that emanated
From where the dragon flashed the sunset’s fire
Off coal black wings a score of miles away.
He did not want to be upon the plains
Defenseless as the dragon hunted prey.
He forced himself to run toward the copse.
The time was near, he told himself. He felt
The dragons practicing their ancient skills,
Anticipating how they, at long last,
Could end continuance of human life.
He had to kill the witches’ child, he thought.
He had to end the threat all humans faced.
At last the pines grew larger as he ran.
He gasped for breath and tried to keep the world
From reaching up and slamming him to ground.
The pine trees welcomed him into their dusk.
He found a sheltered spot beside a trunk
Long fallen to the ground and built a fire.
As fingers trembled just above the flame,
He wondered why he thought the child had sent
The dragon searching for him in the woods.
The dragon had not said the child had sent
Her with intent to frighten him with flame.
The witch was dead. That’s what the dragon said.
The child was young and needed human care.
Perhaps the child was dead, he thought. Perhaps…
But then he felt the child across the miles
Inside her cottage by a warming fire.
He tried to puzzle out the feeling that he had,
But all he knew was that the child still lived.
There was a link between the golden dragon
And witches’ child, he thought. The coal black dragon
Was deep in plans for devastating war.
He stared at how the fire he’d built woke up
The dark and made it dance with leaping shadows.
Doubts gnawed at him inside the shadow dance.
He looked up at the sky. The waning moon
Cast little light, intensified the cold.
He took his blankets from his deer hide pack
And put more wood upon the growing fire.
He’d make the peace, he told himself. I’ll kill
The witches’ child and end the dragon threat.
He wondered why the spirit bear was blocked
From coming to the earth and walking where
Its kind had always walked through haunted light.
To listen to this section of the epic, click on Doubt.
Note: This is the thirty-first 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 Valley of the Scorched Black Stones to go to the section previous to this one.