The Unlucky Dragon

HUNGRY! You sputter over the trees,
not landing yet: food might appear over the next rise.

There: a rabbit that thinks your shadow,
so smoky and vast, is shed by a cloud.
Grab it: just a reach of your massive haunch.
The rabbit is only a tidbit
in your cavernous mouth.
A single seedwould feel the same to a man.
Man. What a monstrous little verminous creature.
Him and his spears; him and his maidens.
Man, who would not share his babies with the hungry lords of the skies
no matter how many he had.
Man, who makes fire, too, but not in the least magically,
and far more efficiently than you do.
Theif. Braggart. Wretch.

And now he wants to fly?
Your sister told you thirteen days ago at Midnight Flight
when seventy-some dragons sailed together
far above the terrestrial divisions of hunting territory.
Man has devised some way by which to glide the same air currents
that bear you and your kind aloft.
Did he think you would share?

Your sister is clever. She understands how men gather,
or make their slaves gather,
thousands of stalks of plants
and how these become, in the course of time, in the course of
innumerable twists of man’s scrabbling little feathery claws,
Wings.
Wings for boats, wings for windows,
wings for maiden’s hair, wings on the back of a man
who wants to shield himself from the sun.
(O holy, most holy high Lord of the Blue Vault!
What a wretch man is, to scrabble at plants
till he makes himself a coward’s shield
from the glorious King of Fire!)
Oh, wings for every purpose, and now at last
wings to fly with. You should have seen it coming.

Does it amuse you, little Man (you ask)
That I must bump my noble head on your towers?
That you must threaten my hide with trees
that you have made sharp
in deception?
Does it seem reason that you will not give me your babies?
What are they more than beasts in the grass?
Must I now bank aside for you as you swim in my wind?
Wind that was my own,
always mine,
the only field vast enough to be my home.

***

When you next land, you will die.
You haven not eaten enough in the past month,
cornered by your sisters into this
man-infested hunting territory,
to rise from the ground one more time.

There, two hawks battling midair.
They will hardly mind;
you will settle their quarrel forever –

– but, no. Like man these fluttering specks
will not do you homage. They fly away.

And now at last you come to it.
Here, on the outer edge of your territory,
on a hill, no less,
meant to tempt you!

You know, you know – your sister knows that you know.
It was a joke for her to warn you.
Not as if you did not realize
what would happen to you
if you should try to take a meal
from this little platter on the hill.
There: trees, sharpened in deception.
But also,
a platter swarming with fragrant little beasts,
cattle of man.
Each would be almost a mouthful to you.

How pleasant to die thus,
with a mouthful of beef,
man’s beef,
seared and smoking and being cooked
within your mouth as you ate it!
(Oh, the crunching bonelets…)
Yes, they may kill you,
but as they do it they must give up so much!
Hah, hah!

Now you hurtle down,
now you bank on winds invisible that resist you
that push back against your thunderous descent,
now again you almost fly, now you dive,
now you do not think about anything,
now you only feel.
Hungry!

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