Tag Archives: village

47. Living Inside Chaos

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis

1

The dire wolf woke Ruarther from his daze.
A male as large as any that he’d seen,
Eyes red, fur ragged, black as moonless nights,
Snarled, bold, into the opening between
The stone fence where Ruarther stood and woods.
It saw Ruarther, crouched in hunting stance,
And stared at him, its baleful eyes twin cauldrons
That bubbled hatred, blind ferocity.
Ruarther jumped down from the wall and grabbed
The bow from Cragdon’s lifeless hands and sent
An arrow at the wolf in one smooth motion.
The wolf, wise to the wiles of men, moved sideways,
The arrow burying into a tree.
Ruarther pulled the bow again and aimed
At where he thought the wolf would move to dodge
His arrow’s flight; the wolf howled; other wolves
Began to come out of the forest trees.
The wolf dodged sideways once again, but true
To how Ruarther’s aim had been, the arrow
Imbedded sharpened stone in flesh; the wolf,
Now maddened, blindly charged toward Ruarther.
Ruarther sent another arrow deep
Into the charging wolf’s dark heart; it fell
As other wolves howled rage that shivered
Into the roiling clouds behind their movement.

The chaos sang with noises not of earth.
A coldness colder than the fiercest storm
Rolled to the wall and poured into the village.
The howling voices of the wolves were silenced.
Ruarther heard the spirit bear, who’d tried
To occupy his body, in the cold.
It sniffed at him, then sniffed at Cragdon’s body,
Then turned toward the village as a dark
That was no dark descended on the world.

2

Above the battle Wei kept circling
As humans sent their flaming arrows splashing
Across hard dragon scales and dragons fought
With dragons as the village cottages
Caught fire and filled the air with smoke and flames.
She felt the chant Ruanne was singing deep
Inside her spirit, the song so powerful
It seemed to alter how time’s arrow moved
Across the day toward night’s distant rising.
Each time she wheeled to keep herself aloft,
She saw the clouds of chaos moving like
An anvil, dense as molten iron, toward
The village, humans, dragons, and the war.
She felt her mother’s and her father’s songs
Inside the chaos, felt her mother buried
Inside her human dragon triple hearts.

Extinction swirled inside the freezing clouds.
Wei felt the message from her mother’s singing.
A dragon flying through the air, she longed
To feel her mother’s loving human touch
Upon her cheek before her mother tucked
Her gently into bed, the long day done–
But she had lost her childhood when her hands
Had woven dragon flesh around her spirit
And made her more than what she should have been.
At last, the boiling clouds intense with cold
Near village walls, she joined Ruanne’s strong chant
And started changing it away from dragons
That spewed their fire toward her slender body
Toward the chaos threatening the lives
Of every creature, every tree, on earth.
The surge of power as she linked her voice
To Ruanne’s voice was startling; she flew
Toward the anvil-looking clouds and reached to find
Her mother’s and her father’s voice in chaos,
Their struggle as they tried to make an order
Inside a universe that knew no order.

Her mind was buffeted by winds so strong
And cold they numbed her sense of who she was
And almost knocked her from the skies she flew.
Her scales seemed like they would dissolve in cold
And flow into the winds that were no winds,
Her spirit part of nothingness that hurled
Its nothingness around for all eternity.

How could she live inside the nothingness?
The stream of chanting from Ruanne dissolved
Into a song so small she hardly knew
That it still tied her to the world beyond
The gray that sucked at her and tried to meld
Her spirit with the fleeting hints of life
That flowed and merged into the whirlpool-flow
That mocked the order that her parents sought.

Deep in her self, beyond the human dragon
That she had made, she reached toward a song
Beyond her individuality.
She tried to find the hearts of who she was
Beyond the being that she was, the truth
Of how life’s impulse strained against the chaos
Imbedded in existence, making possible
The beauty and the substance of the world.

3

Ruarther faced the cloud and cold and felt
The raging storm of nothingness unman
Him from the human man that he’d become.
He did not flinch, but reached into the place
That let him throw the surging spirit bear
Away from who he was and meld his essence
Into the spirit of the self he was.
The chaos storm’s noise roared into his flesh
And numbed the beating of his human heart.
The cold bit down into his will and sucked
Determination from the spirit that he was.

He turned toward the village, feeling nothing
Inside the dark that raged around his body,
And tried to feel his way toward Ruanne.
She had to be alive. His love for her,
Denied so often in his stupid pride,
Was strong enough to will that she still lived.

To listen to this passage click on

Note: This is the forty seventh passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally 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 Retreat to read the passage before this one.

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43. The Dire Wolves

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis

1

The dire wolves, eyes as glittering as suns,
Began to gather in the hills and forests,
Great packs that knew of dragon, human wars
And salivated at destruction where
They would relieve the earth of carrion.
Upon the crest of hills they started howling,
Their songs a haunting madness shivering
Their ravening into the day’s cold skies.

As Wei kept laboring to stay in flight
The voices of the wolves caused her to rise
Above the tallest treetops, dragons flanked
Around her as they rose up from the ground
And filled the skies with colored scales and wings
That thundered as they flew toward the village
Where dragons battled humans to the death.
How could a little girl be who she was?
Wei thought. The scales of light she wore outside
The human dragon that she was perturbed her,
Although she also held onto her sense
Of self inside the weirding of her life.

Beside her Mmirrimann kept humming songs
That seemed much older than the winter skies.
They seemed to reach into a time before
Time found its measuring, its arrow’s flow.
Below the two of them Ssruuanne swooped down
And grabbed a human in her massive claws
And lifted him into the winter skies.
His frightened yelp was faint inside the beat
Of steady dragon wings that sent the horde
Toward the village Wei had left while young.

A pack of dire wolves burst out from the woods,
Their movement slow compared to dragon flight,
But filled with bristling energies that sang
Of violent spirits empty of remorse.
Beside her Mmirrimann sniffed his disgust.

2

Toward the mountains, distant from the flight
Of dragons, huge, a wall of mist began
To anvil up into the day’s bright sky,
Inside the mist miasma whirled and sparked
As if it held a winter lightning storm.
Shades gloamed in dusk as chaos sang and gates
And boundaries began to shift and fray.
Inside the storm, inside her daughter’s spirit,
Wei’s mother, father waved their witching arms
And blotted out the shine of winter sun.

3

Ruanne could feel the storm. The great black dragon,
His claws extended, hurtled at the shelter
She calmly nestled into; strong, gray slate exploded,
His body’s strength so large it took away
Delusions of her safety, hammering
The cottage roof a half a dozen yards
Away from where she’d hid. She sent a bolt
Of energy out of her frightened spirit
Toward the massive dragon with his one good eye.
She felt another spurt of energy
Mesh with the bolt she’d sent, the two bolts strong
Enough to knock the dragon off the roof.
The dragon roared, crescendoing his voice
Into the muttered roars that punctuated
The battles flaming just above the rooftops.
She did not think, but notched a burning arrow,
Then sent it at a violet dragon’s scales.

4

Knocked to the ground, Sshruunak could feel the horde
Of dragons in the air, their eyes and necks
Strained at the melee in the war’s first skirmish.
He wondered at the feelings forcing him
To understand that all his plans were dashed,
And, like the night he’d lost his eye, his life
Was spinning to a grim reality
He’d not seen in the shining of his dreams.
He pounded wings into the sky and searched
For dragons flying to the humans’ rescue.
A single light burned in the front of scores
Of dragons humming ancient warrior songs.
The rainbow of the light was much too bright
To countenance. Behind its fire the skies
Above the mountains roiled with spirit beasts
And chaos borne upon the winds he’d made
To start the glory of his dragon human war.

He saw his followers were scorched by flames.
The burning underneath his scales seared pain
Into his mind’s slow, sluggish desperation.
What should he do? he thought. What could he do?
He could not, would not lose the war he’d made.

5

A shock made Wei forget to keep her wings
In motion as she navigated currents
Above, below her shining dragon body.
Ruanne’s thoughts rang in Wei and made the world
Seem brighter than the possibilities that trembled
As dragons filled the skies with who they were.
The great black dragon fell and then was up
And raging at his puny human foes.
His followers were shaken by the fires
That gouged into their scales and weakened them.
Wei sent her dragon human powers deep
Into the stream of power emanating
From where Ruanne sat dazed upon a roof
As roaring captured all the world in pain.
Behind her in the wild miasma’s storm
The universe seemed like a madhouse thrown
Into a time where time did not exist.

Sshruunak’s attacking dragons felt the song
That Mmirrimann, Ssruaanne, the others sang.
Wei flew beside her dragon kin and felt
Her mother’s spelling at the boundary
Where all eternity and history
Spun on the cusp of change so powerful
No being would be like they were before.

To listen to this passage, click on The Dire Wolves

Note: This is the forty third passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally 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 The Deadly Dragon Hordeto read the passage before this one. To read the next passage of the epic, click on Confrontation.

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42. The Deadly Dragon Horde

a passage from The Dragon Epic by Thomas Davis

1

Up from the mountain slopes above the circle
Of black stone, dragons filled the sky, their hearts
And spirits fierce with dragon rage and war.
Above them, eyes afire, Sshruunak watched fiercely,
Exultant that his time had come, the skies
So filled with rising dragons that they seemed
A swarm of blackness, death aimed at the humans.
The sun was bright and echoed off the snow
That covered jagged peaks thrown at the sky.
He glided as they came to him, then turned
Toward the village closest to the caves
And shrilled his challenge at the universe.

2

The blackness emanating from the mountains
Made Wei attempt to move her too large wings
And lift herself into the morning air.
The snow around her sprayed and glittered light
Into the shining blue of cloudless skies.
Ssruuanne moved quickly back to miss the force
Of wings more powerful than Wei could know.
The human child inside the dragon body
Felt tears well up inside her tearless eyes
As nothing seemed to move as muscles strained
To lift a body not her body off
The snowy ground to insubstantial air.
Wei moved her massive legs and beat her wings
And roared frustration, startling her hearts
That thundered in her chest and frightened her.

She was a child, she thought. She could not be
A dragon with a dragon’s roar and hearts.

A little way away a wild-eyed Mmirrimann
Kept glancing at the sky and then at Wei,
His feet a drum-like tattoo on the snow.
He looked as if he did not know if he
Should launch into the skies or watch the rainbow
In front of him take life that seemed unreal.
Around him, stretched as far as Wei could see,
The other dragons stared at Mmirrimann,
Then Wei, as if they waited for a sign
That told them what the black mind-storm assailing
Them meant inside a day of miracle.
Great dragon eyes whirled colors at the light
Intense enough to make the morning golden.

Ssruuanne was silent as the human dragon
Strained at the gravities of solid ground.
She looked confused, as if she could not make
Her thoughts reorder to reality.

Reality seemed skewered from the course
Of natural life, its permanence undone.
At last, the struggle in her thoughts’ confusion
So strong it made Ssruuanne feel more human
Than elder dragon born with dragon strength,
She shook her massive golden head and grumbled,

“On ground this flat you have to run to fly.
The question is, what are you flying to?”

Sshruunak’s cry slammed its triumph through the plateau
As Wei began to run, her panic turbulent.
She lurched from one side to another side
As Mmirrimann and other dragons cleared
A path for her and wings that did not match
The rhythm of her wildly churning legs.
Ssruuanne took off so smoothly, wings
A golden flashing in the light, she seemed
A definition of a dragon’s grace.
Along the edges of the dragons’ circle
A dozen other dragons leaped to flight.
Then Wei, her heartbeats double beating rhythms
Her legs and wings could synchronize, so slow
It seemed as if she’d slam into the ground,
Rose from the snow into the air in flight.
She murmured to herself to feel the wonder
Of being what she was, a dragon flying
From human form into the heaven’s skies.

Around her dragons filled the air, so many
There did not seem the space to hold them all.
The blackness drumming at her mind suppressed
Exhilaration storming through her spirit.
She was a human dragon flying, strong
Enough to be the being she’d become!

And then she felt another cry, a human cry
That shivered where her arms had been and made
Her human heart asynchronous with how
Her dragon hearts beat with the beat of wings.
She gasped, a human, still a dragon. Fear
And anger made her stall, then start the beat
That kept her in the air again, the blackness
A song outside of who she’d ever be.

3

The coal black dragon led the arrowhead
Of dragons flying at the waiting village.
His heart calm, Cragdon turned and shouted out
The warning that the village knew would come,
Then dropped behind the wall and took his bow
Into his hand and lit a flaming arrow.
There had to be more dragons in the flock
Of dragons flying to their human war
Than he had ever seen in all his life.
Ruarther had not flinched to fight a dragon
By moonlight when the two of them had faced
What seemed to be a night of certain death.
Ruarther had no spirit of his own,
But Cragdon had a wife and child and love
And would not flinch to splash his arrow’s flame
Into the hardness of a dragon’s scales.
He waited, glanced to see the dragon’s distance,
Then knelt behind the stony wall again.

4

Ruanne, upon her cottage roof, heard Cragdon’s voice
And knew the time of blackness came on wings
Of many colors as attacking dragons
Gave shape to darkened songs inside her mind.
She felt the power of their warrior song
And felt her witch’s power stirring in response.
Come on, she thought. Come on. We’ll meet you here.
She lit the pot that leaped with flame and yelled
Defiance at the coming dragon horde.

To listen to this passage of the epic, click on The Deadly Dragon Horde.

Note: This is the forty second passage of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally 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 Fate and Sentinels to read the passage before this one. To read the following passage, click on .

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18. Touching a Dragon’s Mind

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.

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9. Ruarther’s Threat

by Thomas Davis

As Reestor glared at him, Ruarther felt
As if he’d turned to stone, his spirit hard
And eyes as cold as when the wall of ice
Had overtaken him inside the field.

“We’ve been at peace with dragons much too long
To start a war with them,” the old man said.
“You’re dreaming’s not enough to have them fly
Above us as their breaths chars all we love.”

“It was no dream,” Ruarther growled, his temper blazing.
“The dragon singed me with her stream of fire!
We have to kill the witches’ girl, or else
The world will change in ways that weird us all!”

Ruanne, disoriented, looked at her only love.
He’d kill the child? She’d dreamed of having children
Since childhood, playing with her handmade dolls.
What child had powers strong enough to cause
Grown men to quail before their unlived lives?
She tried to see inside Ruather’s rage
And understand what fear was driving him.
A hundred times she’d thought she’d earned his love,
But every time he’d danced away from her.

“Why do you meld the dragon with the child?”
A stubborn Reestor asked, eyes fixed on rage.
The man was weak yet, still affected by
The storm he’d barely made it through to home.

Around them half the village stood inside
The hall, the argument a bane when winter
Was harsh enough to threaten all of them
If they could not depend on long-term braids
To knit their wills together as they strove
To live until the distant, longed-for spring.

“The dragon spoke about the child,” Ruarther spat.
“Why wouldn’t they be linked? She spoke of her.
If not from spelling by the witch’s child,
Why would a dragon speak again to men?”

Old Molly grasped Ruanne’s slim hand and hissed.
“You’re young, young man,” she said. “Your blood runs hot
Or else you would have known what good is yours.
You’re foolish. In the past we fought the dragons,
And many died, but then the dragons seldom
Attacked unless they were alone, but now
They have communities just like this place.
If stirred, they’ll come together in a pack.”

Ruanne felt like she ought to scream the swirl
Of roiling feelings trapped inside her chest.

“The storm is done,” Ruarther said. “I’ll go.
It doesn’t matter what the village thinks.
I see the danger rising in a cloud,
and like I’ve brought back game when others failed,
I’ll save the village from temerity.
The weirding’s got to stop. The girl is dead.”

Ruanne heard children screeching in the snow.
The storm was over. Now they’d laugh and sing
As if the awful winds and cold had never been.
Inside her mind she felt the dragons flying
In multi-colored packs, an endless stream
Of fire and deadly claws out of their caves.

“I’m leader still. Not you, not yet. You won’t
Go up the mountain,” Reestor said. “We need
More meat. The hunters have to hunt for game.”

Ruarther glared at him. He glanced at Brand.
The hunter looked away as if he heard
His young ones as they worked to dig a path
Between the cottages through feet of snow.
At last Brand looked into Ruarther’s eyes.

“No hunter has your strength or skill,” he said.
“You need to throw your madness out and be
The leader that you’ve always been for us.”

“Nobody understands,” Ruarther said,
His bitterness a rancor in his voice.
“Nobody felt the heat of dragon flame.”
He turned and looked toward the hall’s great door.
He looked at Reestor. “I have always done
What’s good for all of us,” he said. “I’m certain
Deep down that what I’m doing’s for the best.”

Before the men around him moved, he strode
Toward the door, his face implacable.

Ruanne took flight outside her thoughts, her feelings
As raw as skin upon the head of children
Brought out into the light outside the womb.

“You’re wrong,” she heard herself say, voice as sharp
As sharpened knives. “You cannot kill the child!
To kill a child forever marks the soul
With blackness stained into an evil life.”

Ruarther stopped and looked into her panicked eyes.

“I’ll love you all my life,” he said, voice loud.

He turned, picked up his bow, plowed through the snow
Toward the stone wall built around the village.
Inside the hall a hunter, Cragdon, startled,
Then left the hall to join Ruarther’s rage.
His young wife grabbed at him, missed, wailed with fear.
The young man did not stop or even pause.

Audio of Ruarther’s Threat

Note: This is the eighth installment of a long 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 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, 8 to read the installment before this one. Click on 10 to read the next section.

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5. Ruarther Out of the Storm

by Thomas Davis

I

Ruarther stopped inside the meadow, dread
A tingling arc behind his head and neck.
The doe was heavy on his back, but pliable,
A coat whose legs stuck out with black, sharp hooves
Above his thin, hard belly, barrel chest.
He turned to look behind him at the forest.
The clouds had fallen to the earth , were moving
Toward him. As they moved a wall of mists,
That anviled up into the day’s bright sky,
Glazed ice across the ground and turned the world
Dark, floating, hard with cold and fields of ice.
Dismay and disbelief shrilled through his arms
And spread in icy tendrils to his too loud heart.

The wierding! In his mind he saw the bear
Rise up inside the forest as he woke
And heard its roar imbedded in the wall
That slid toward him as he froze in place.
The witch’s spawn! He thought in rage as darkness
Rolled over him and ice encased his body,
Another skin so hard and cold it felt
As if he’d never move his legs again.
The dragon that had brewed his fear in vats
Prepared by witching words and weirding vials!

He forced himself to turn toward the village.
The doe had frozen hard around his shoulders.
What will we do? He asked himself. A moan
Rose from the trees behind him as a fierce,
Sharp wind that stung his ice-encrusted face
Drove snow across the meadow’s sudden white.
His legs felt heavy as he forced himself to move.
He wondered, deep inside, if he could make
The journey to the village that was left.
He’d never faced a weirding storm before.
He forced himself to run, his fear a pounding
In ears so cold they stung with savage pain.

II.

The hunters came out of the angry storm
One at a time, beards caked with ice, hands burning
From bitter cold. Each one, dejected, sat
Inside the village hall and said they’d seen no game.
Their families needed food, but as the storm
Had threatened, all the animals had hid
From searching eyes and deadly arrowheads.
At last they’d all come home, except for one:
Ruarther always brought back game no matter
What weather howled or animals retreated
To lower altitudes or hidden dens.

As Reestor donned his bear-hide cloak to walk
Toward the stone fence at the village edge,
He thought about the times starvation stalked
The mountain folk until their greatest hunter
Came bearing meat enough to keep their bellies
From shrinking during long, cold winter nights.
The hunts had not found game for much too long,
And now the winter when grim scarcity
Would stalk the village like a beast had come.

Still, no one liked the hunter—even though
His generosity was greater than
That shown by any other village man.
His pride was harsh as acid burning deep
Into the flesh, and when he spoke he made
His fellow hunters, even Reestor, flinch.

Ruanne, desirable to all the men,
Kept all of them at bay and let them know
Ruarther was the only man for her,
But even she was challenged when she tried
To soften haughtiness enough to let
Love’s light shine in her eyes and strong, wild heart.

Outside the wind blew blasts of heavy snow
In Reestor’s eyes. He leaned into the wind
And took forever crossing to the fence
A hundred yards from where the village hall
Stood sound and solid in the shrieking storm.
He stood beside the oak wood gates that barred
The dire wolves from the round stone cottages
And tried to stare into the blowing snow.
The storm was three days old and still as fierce
As dragon mothers sheltering their young.
He knew Ruarther’s strength and skill, but still. . .

The big man teased the headman’s blinking eyes.
The snow clouds cleared, then billowed white again,
Allowing, for a moment, one brief glimpse
Of brownness shouldering fresh meat, salvation
Inside a storm that promised days of hunger.
The old man felt triumphant as the wind
Shrieked like a demon from a dragon’s fiery gut.
He shoved the gate while kicking at the snow,
The snow too deep to let the gate swing open.
Ruarther, face around his eyes raw, red,
Turned sideways, slipped inside the gate, and grunted.
He looked exhausted as he let the doe
Fall to the ground, its carcass frozen stiff.

As Reestor grabbed Ruather, keeping him
Upright, the big man’s eyes locked on his eyes,
Eye whites alive and burning in the storm.

“The witch is dead,” Ruarther croaked. “Her child
Is stirring up the dragons, witching them.
We need to organize ourselves for war!”

The volume of the wind began to roar
As if the sky was gathering its force
To tear apart all life that lived on earth.
Ruarther, Reestor stumbled through the wind
And snow and tried to reach stone walls and warmth.

The dragons? Reestor thought. They’d been at peace
With men forever even though the witch
Had lived below them for a dozen years.
No villager need fear a dragon war.
He felt the weight Ruarther put on him.
The man was weak. The strongest man he’d known
Was stumbling as if he was a child.

“The bear,” Ruarther mumbled incoherently.
“I heard the bear warn of the dragon child.”

Relieved, the village hall now looming, Reestor
Felt cold blast through his body, felt a chill
Shriek through his spirit, felt an endless cold
Spread like a blanket over sky and earth.
He reached the hall’s stout door and pounded hard.
His strength was gone. Ruarther squared his shoulders
As light spilled from the Hall into the snow.

Note: This is the fifth installment of a long poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story that is set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box under The Dragon Epic. 1, 2, 3, 4. Go to 6 to read the next section.

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Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

The Sickness

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The people in the village
tied their sicknesses
onto the spotted jaguar.
Then men chased him
out of the village with sticks,

but the people
did not chase him far enough—
because in the night
he came back
and took my love.

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Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

Spanish Village

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Filed under Art, Art by Ethel Mortenson Davis