Even near the weary turn of the last jaded century,
An old Welshman claimed his father had slain draig-talamh,
The earth dragons. He swore seeing them in his youth:
Scales crusty with jewels, crests flaring in rainbows.
When disturbed, he said, they slid away to hide –
Seeking dark tumuli reeking of earth and damp,
Sowed with the sacred weapons of men.

Still coiled deep in that muck, a dying claw curls
Around a naked thing that snuffles and squirms,
Veined skin shiny, thin as tissue:
That delicate treasure, the old Welshman’s belief.
Tiny lungs suck rot and mold, pink stubs paw weakly in mire.

Someone expecting anything must dig fast through that grit,
Be brave enough to tell what they never saw.

(First published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, June 25, 2022 – thanks to Editor Strider Marcus Jones.)

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