by Gavin Bantock
Someone said the blue dragon on my study wall was laughing,
dying of laughter; and ever since there seems to be
another one somewhere, looking at me, almost benignly.
I've never seen it, but I knew there was a black one
watching me in the garden of that empty house.
I've seen one of its eyes in the knot of a silver birch
planted, so mildly I thought, in a public garden;
and there it was again, black against the horizon
last winter in the Merioneth hills: there though
it was something more than a terrible eye--
wings, but there was no skin between the bones.
The sea knows about it. Nothing to do with the eyes:
its body is under the beach: I've seen a claw
sticking up through the sand. But when I get there,
it's turned into white driftwood tangled with seaweed.
Once I saw it coil out of the chimney of the sweep's house
over the hill outside the village; but again,
when I looked to see where it'd go next,
it had wandered away into a hesitant raincloud;
one of its orange horns showed instead of the dwarf moon.
The nearest I ever got was up a mountain river
above seven waterfalls. I could have touched its eye--
a round diamond of spray, caught by the sun, just about
to drop from the black finger of a moss-humped pine.
A red carp must have got to the top of the river.
Only this morning I heard it wheezing inside the ramshackle
organ of the village church: it must have been
stirred by the pagan chords I struck there;
I might have found out more about it if the lady
who did the flowers hadn't come in then: her tolerant
smile shattered my extempore castle-towers
and made the dragon hold its breath, until I'd fled.
I often wonder if it wants to clutch my heels,
but it never seems to be behind me, always ahead,
waiting perhaps for me to trip over a fallen leaf
and go tumbling down into the roaring gulley
I know is only inches below my left foot.
I think it's looking for fire, or the hoard
it was once guardian of. I'm afraid
if it gets into my head, it may find
enough black smoke to hide its nine hundred
years of heath-stepping shame, and then,
I suppose, I'd have to spend the rest of my life
knocking stones together for occasional sparks,
or cracking them open in search of fool's gold.