I mentioned recently that there are certain words and phrases that I use over and over again: “rather lovely” occurs in a dozen posts here, while a search on “glorious” brings up 11 pages – over 50 posts. But it’s not just language that repeats; it’s also the topics.
There are daisies and dandelions scattered across these pages almost as liberally as the actual flowers occur in the neighbour’s garden, while bees bumble between posts, swallows swoop down and swans glide through at irregular, but fairly frequent, intervals.
And then there are six pages of posts where dragons lurk.
Of course, not all the dragons are real dragons: some are merely floral allusions (or, perhaps illusions), while some are dragonflies. The chances are, too, that half the lacy-winged bugs I think are dragonflies are actually damselflies, like the glorious [sic] banded demoiselle perched at the top of this post.
Others are even more radically mis-identified. I’ve just discovered that this creature I found on my verandah in Spain, which prompted a whole post about dragons some years ago, is actually an antlion.
But dragons, damsels and antlions all sound like the stuff of stories, so here’s a – slightly unseasonal – poem.
The boy king sits astride a rafter in the hayloft;
ignoring splinters, he shins along rough wood to reach
the open hatch. Here he commands
a view of his whole checker-board dominion.
The rope swings and the pulley creaks
its one-note song. Below,
he sees red minotaurs rip the ears
from corn. They snort and puff. The sun
glints on their sickle horns
as they pour golden treasure
into drum bellies and sneeze
the chaff away unthinkingly. Are these
Rapunzel’s golden locks cut short?
Will Rumplestiltskin tread
the straw paths in the dusk
of this discarded summer? Who will weave
the corn maid for the sacrifice?
He revels in old wisdom handed down,
unwritten, with the land. In the yard
a black cat’s shadow pours
itself along the wall. The beasts have left
the trampled field; on they roll, leaving
destruction in their wake. From the kitchen comes
the welcome smell of bread and there will be
stories before bedtime.