Poetry / February 2011 (Issue 13)

Dragons Rising

by Jason Eng Hun Lee

They come flying across azure skies,
straddling great earthenware hills,
paddling out of sunken depths
and rousing eyelids from stumps of trees.
Like great rivers, their torsos writhe and coil
at every bend. Under each crevice,
beside each faint shadow, they emerge
from all the elements to speak to me.

The greatest amongst them are flanked by
crab-nosed guards from brittle glass palaces
who will order me to pay them homage
with my hornless head hung low
and my claws sheathed and bowed.
I must pray for their benevolence,
always obedient, never pleading
for them to turn their gaze from me.

They will hold me fast in their embrace
like a prodigal son newly returned,
whisper at origins beyond the Eastern seas
and lash their tails across great continents,
eager to measure their momentous tides
with their old-age wisdom and their charm,
expecting to see their offspring running
back in droves before their immortal eyes.

They tell me I too can pass through
this arched gateway to heavenly peace,
that my scales will glisten with pride again.
Spewing up great mouthfuls of smoke,
they tell me everything has changed.
You are descended from dragons
they say, stretching their gleaming talons
behind their backs. You belong to us now.
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