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  • DragonsA Poem-Cycle
  • Jill Hammer

The Dragon and the Unicorn

She will never understandwhy he does not eat the maidenand be done.If that white horn were hers, she would use it differently:to play dance tunes for volcanoes. To pierce God.

She will not lay her head in a pale lap.She despises halters,and even before she was born, she was not a virgin.She has a double portion of lustfor the world and for what lies behind the world.

The unicorn vanquishes death. The dragon is not impressed.She curls around the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil,flicks her tail, pretends to doze.The unicorn gazes at heaven. The dragon eyes a bird.

The maiden shows the unicorn a mirror,round and perfect as Venus, its blond handle graceful.The unicorn looks into the mirror and smiles.The maiden shows the mirror to the dragon.The dragon breathes on it.It cracks into a million pieces,each one reflecting her burning eyes.Has she not improved matters? [End Page 83]

Death will be back. She has no doubt of itand it will be her turn then.She will choose differently.She will let death livein her, and consult itat every moment. [End Page 84]

Dragon on the Subway

She wants to be alone,rush down round darkness solitary.

The people are a nuisance, their thick faces,their calves in leather boots,their clumsy winter coats,their separate silences, their eyes that never alight.She only feels close to the subway,its energy, its power,its hurtling along the same rutted track.The subway she can understand,its need for rhythm, its rules, its snapping doors.She doesn’t feel kin to the people squashed into seats,only to the city, that salon of shadows,that wine cellar of bottled motion.It is the subway that sings to herendlessly, molding her body to its sound.

She clings to the tarnished silver of the pole.Everything is looking at her,the briefcases, the glasses, the sweaters, the scarves.She hates to be looked at. She hides her face with her wings,blows smoke in veils around her.

Don’t look at me, look at the advertismentsfor dermatologists who use fruit juiceto peel away the skin. Look at the photographs of battered women.Look at the lines of amputated poetry.Look at the creatures nesting in your heads.Don’t look at me. I am a legendarymonster. I am nothing to see. I don’t exist.

The walls close in again. There is a seat.She curls herself into a ball,shuts her eyes to rest, wishes a second timeshe had the subway tunnels to herself.The conductor calls: stand clear of the closing doors. [End Page 85]

Dragon at the Gynecologist’s Office

It is as if she has never beenhere before. He asks a nurse to hold her hand,chooses his least invasive implement.She takes off her clothes slowly,procrastinating.She does not want to be pared down.

The clock ticks off its secondsuntil she lies flat and open like a wedding presentafter the wedding. He probes her shadows.Inside her is a limestone cavefull of mysterious formations, nodulesbuilding drop by drop over the ages,marble curtains, pillars kissing.There are pools that perfectly reflectthe icicles of stone hanging above them.Which of these growths are normal?The physician cannot tell.He is disturbed by her unchartableterritory. She meditates on the ceiling,wondering if she is like a starfish:if he breaks off her breasts, will they grow back?He swabs from her a sample of her fleshfor laboratory technicians she will never meet.This seems obscene to her, promiscuous,akin to a crooked condom lying in the park.The nurse lets go her hand: another betrayal.

The gynecologist has good news for her:her caves are just like boxes, all in order.She feels obscurely angry, violated.When he is not watching,she eats his speculum. [End Page 86]

The Dragon Considers the Root of Evil

They call her Satan,Lilith, Lucifer, the...


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pp. 83-87
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