There once was a tiny dragon,
No larger than the palm of my hand.
She burned no village, stole no princess,
Her name not spoken in fear throughout the land.
She hoarded not gold, not jewels,
Cared not for such frivolous things.
It was memories she kept in her miniscule cave
She guarded with flickering fire and scrap wings.
I went to her cave in the mountains.
Stumbled on it, by mistake;
As I lay down my head at the roots of a tree,
By an obscure and secluded lake.
She emerged in her miniature splendour,
From beneath a nearby rock.
She let out a yawn of fire;
And I froze: in awe, in shock.
She grinned a needlepoint grin,
Beckoned with one curved claw
Into her miniscule cave,
I followed: in shock, in awe.
I peered through the half-hidden opening,
Only inches larger than my head.
The dragon spoke soft but thunderous,
And this is what was said:
“This is my hoard, young human.
This is all I hold dear in the world.”
And she handed to me a birthday card -
Some edges singed, some curled.
It had writing in a swirling foreign script
That seemed to be etched, not written.
“This is the love of my first ever crush,
In the days when we were still smitten.”
“Is this all?” I scoffed, “Just pieces of paper,
and wrappers and old useless things?”
Her doll-sized body began to shudder
With a judder of claws and a flutter of wings.
No larger than my littlest finger,
She was a smaller version of herself;
But still I froze as she perched on my nose,
To her, a sizeable shelf.
“You hold no value to memories?
Then why don’t you leave yours behind?
Since they strike you as being so useless,
I’m certain you wouldn’t mind.”
Now all my memories are scraps,
Shadows of what they once were.
I wonder if she kept them somewhere,
In that diminutive cave with her.
Notes from a wife I think I had:
About the shopping, the kids? The car?
A card from my parents, a gift from a friend,
A reason for this faint lip scar.
I try to keep letters, tickets, receipts,
Compulsively, I feel I must.
But whenever I reach for that link to my past,
It is nothing but ash, but dust.