She lames her ankle on the descent, finds her ever-less-corporal-self still bound by grief and pain as the light cotton shift falls to her feet
You must shower, girl, leave all the light behind
And enter into this entirely different kind of
Walk ahead, don’t look back
Never let him know how much it costs to stay
Inside the dark box of the bet he lost
For both of you
I picture her each night
Her hair, the yarn unravel
All the work of a single day
Woven and unwoven
Like the even exchange
Of breath in and out
Her days are split
Between unwelcome suitors
And reflexively scanning the horizon
For the husband of her youth
Holding the wolves at bay
Unspooling the skein of her work
Making it invisible
To save the idea of a man,
She found herself gazing at the child.
Dragons are accustomed to solitary places. Her heart was creased and caged by the years she had lived.
In her mind she could see her life stretched out in a long train of high haunts and gleaming fortresses. She was no longer proud of the way she could make men run in fear and trembling when she came to the breaches and swooped down to take their treasure–gold, jewels, bolts of silk and brocade. Before she had brooded over it like a nesting bird, but now her gaze had shifted.
Now she watched the boy. He supplanted all thoughts of other treasure. In times past she would run her scaly claws through the things she owned, anxious to keep things. Now she wish–ached to be able to take all of it to Someone–someone who could with power and promise keep this child safe–from the darkness in the world she knew too well.
They say that God Himself designed the space between a mother and her child. It is the perfect distance for the eyes of a child, focused on a love that should anchor them to a fixed point in an unfixed universe.
The bond of a mother with a nursing child establishes the language of the unspoken, irrevocable promise–I am here and because I am here you are safe.
–Dame NP Doxia, A Dragon’s Guide to Raising the Human Child, pg. 7b
Is a cage
Bars of iron and carbon
Our bones and the teeth of
The dragon who bore us
Sown into earth
Dust we are and dust we shall be
Through the steel barrier
We eye freedom in chains
And paw at the irretrievable arrow
In our ribcage
Greetings, my name is Naga Proserpina Doxia but please, call me Auntie Naga or even Auntie P. We dragon folk can be a cantankerous and saturnine bunch. I aim to change that, I am to change a lot of things.
That was how the good book started. The Dragoness flipped through it’s pages looking at chapter headings, the intricate illustrations and diagrams, pages with neatly organized lists of things: this treasure trove of information.
It was as though Auntie P had anticipated this very situation– the lone haunt, the solitary dragon, the sleeping infant. The world entire.
When she found it she knew. The title (poorly translated from the Greek) was “The Draconian Guide to Raising Humans”
Now, while the Dragon herself felt that Draco was a positive figure in the aggregate history of human government, she was not sure how his stringent moral law would help her find nourishment for a baby.
So she was vastly and conspicuously relieved when she opened the book (only slightly singed) and found original talon-drawn illustrations and a surprisingly maternal self-portrait of the author–Naga P. Doxia. It appeared that this esteemed authoress and dragoness had pioneered a little known and even less understood movement to foster understanding and community between dragons and humans.
Dame Naga had put forth the idea that when human population experienced paroxysms of orphanage, dragons should fill the gap. This was a controversial prospect from the outset. The dragon communities felt that their benevolence would be mistaken for usurpage or worse yet, kidnapping. They were a solitary and cloistered folk, and the scrutiny and prospect of intrusion and misunderstanding filled them with a grim and slithery fear.
And the humans? They took immediate and vociferous umbrage at the idea entirely!
Yet, Doxia had persevered, doggedly pursuing her trifold goals of fostering understanding, writing about her passion, and adopting actual human children. It was the last of course which drove and illuminated the others.
It was a thoroughly engrossing read.
Several soft blankets
Bolts of fabric of varies types and weights
Several sets of ornate nesting dolls
A compass and a globe
Several deep rugs and tapestries
A silver brush
None of this seemed to quite fit the need of the moment. What did this tiny child need now? Surely not a compass or a brush or even nesting dolls. He needed to nest like a tiny bird. He needed to be held and loved. But sometime quite soon he would need nourishment. What would she do about that? What else would she need to provide for him?
She continued to search through the things she had gathered. Finally she found the scrolls, the books which lay in a haphazard pile next to several piles of doubloons and other coinage scavenged mostly through dim sun-spooked dives into the wreckage of ships downed by storms, rocks and buccaneers.
Books. This would take some time. Could she find some treatise or guide about raising this small child?
She would need to find something quickly. She began to sort through the books, careful to breath slowly, as softly as possible so that she would neither disturb the child nor singe the books.
The dragon was aware of her deficiencies–her reptile bulk, her scaly and inhospitable limbs. She had fierce clawed mitts where a Mother’s hands should be. At best she was barely adequate for the task of parenting a human child. While the little one slept in the crook of her arm she began to search through her vast piles of objects for anything that might help her to nourish and sustain this tiny child whom she already loved deeply.