This post is dedicated to my dragon slayers.
Women who are forever guarding my back.
Bandaging my wounds.
Reinforcing my shield.
Sharpening my sword.
Reminding me not to be the dragon.
We live in a land of dragons.
Their lairs are hidden and camouflaged.
Hunting, pursuing, devouring beasts.
We can be the dragon; we can be the prey.
From time to time I am hunted because the beast is hungry.
Other times I am trailed—the leviathan is simply bored and not otherwise preoccupied.
Frequently I use poor judgment,
and I just get too close.
Naively I become too brave and forget my shield back on the practice field.
In fear I count the scales of the beast that torments me.
Metallic, glittering, razor sharp.
I am caught in a corner.
Driven there by hot breath and fiery tongues—
I can see the red eyes.
My skin crawls under the smothering nostril heat.
Like paper my heavy armor flutters, paltry and flimsy,
beneath the inhalations and exhalations
of the sweet, rotted breath of the monster.
Suddenly my sword arm is too weak to bear the weight,
and I can't lift it up for defense.
I turn to flee, to run away, to escape
and I stumble over my own boots.
I am splayed on the ground.
A target that would be hard to miss.
I take a deep breath.
I want to fight this battle alone—
Oh, I want to be the heroine.
I don't want others to be aware there is a battle being waged.
I don't want anyone to know there is a dragon in my back yard.
In defiance I want to walk away
with the dragon's claw hanging around my neck.
I want my prowess to be that which defeats it.
But my flesh will fail.
I am cowering.
Covering my head and my heart with hands far too small.
I cry out loud, but I wonder if anyone can hear me
through the deafening downfall of the beast's wings above me.
The beast is so close I can see my image mirrored
in the convex glass of the vertically slitted eye.
This reptilian creature looks familiar.
I recognize the tactics.
I have a keen sense I have been here before.
And I remember. I remember.
I can't do this unaided.
Taking down dragons is not a task for a woman alone.
Instantly I am utterly aware of how very weak I really am.
There is no room in this particular moment to think too highly of myself.
Flinging and casting my pride aside,
I scream for help and reinforcements.
Just as the heavy talon is about to pierce my heart,
They are armed.
They have heard my plea.
Willingly they have entered the fray because of their love for me.
They have come to help me fight
the monster within
and the beast without.
I know who they are.
They know who I am.
We are familiar with each others' dragons.
Many times they have brought me my forgotten shield,
and they have lashed my sword to my arm.
I have been called to their sides,
just as they are now at mine.
And we wage war together.
Who cares about the dragon's claw?