I Hunted Dragons Once

After Kitagawa Utamaro: detail of Pink Flowers with Butterflies and a Dragonfly (public domain)

I hunted dragons once. Courting danger,
Armed with nothing but a net, my hands, a jam jar,
I ventured onto wastelands alone, a stranger
To my primeval prey, a knight to war.

Winged beasties, flitting over hard-baked earth,
Seeking scrubby growth for landing strips:
I stalked them, watched them pause and barely stir,
Balanced on stalks of grass, suspended on the lips
Of pools (putrid, slick with slime like Grendel’s lair),
Their rainbow iridescence, blues and reds
And greens and mauves, upheld by filigreed air,
Their slender bodies capped by swivel heads.

I caught these wonders, cupped them in my hands,
Transferred them into glass-walled living rooms,
Grass-filled their glamorous future homelands,
Never thinking these would be their tombs.

I hunted dragons once, so wanting thus to be
Protective. But they wanted to be free.

I hunted dragons once. Courting danger, armed with nothing but a net, my hands, a jam jar, I ventured onto wastelands alone, a stranger to my primeval prey, a knight to war.

Winged beasties, flitting over hard-baked earth, seeking scrubby growth for landing strips: I stalked them, watched them pause and barely stir, balanced on stalks of grass, suspended on the lips of pools (putrid, slick with slime like Grendel’s lair), their rainbow iridescence, blues and reds and greens and mauves, upheld by filigreed air, their slender bodies capped by swivel heads.

I caught these wonders, cupped them in my hands, transferred them into glass-walled living rooms, grass-filled their glamorous future homelands, never thinking these would be their tombs.

I hunted dragons once, so wanting thus to be protective. But they wanted to be free.


An exercise for a creative writing class on poetry:  inspired by Seamus Heaney’s ‘Blackberry-Picking (For Philip Hobsbaum)’ I’ve formatted it as both poem and prose-poem

11 thoughts on “I Hunted Dragons Once

    1. Calmgrove Post author

      I’m glad this evoked pleasing memories for you, Lizzie, and of your daughter. For me it conjures up ever fading images of free time spent playing unsupervised on waste ground near our apartment on Hong Kong island in the fifties — I wanted to record what I remembered of the emotions I had, elation followed by disappointment. And of course dragons were/are everywhere in China, in Hong Kong no less than anywhere else there.

      Liked by 1 person

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  1. piotrek

    Definitely, childhood memories, and I remember some beautiful dragonflies near my grandparents’ holiday cottage, one of the magical places of my early days… but I also now have in my head this image of a wizened, reformed ex-dragon hunter from some fantasy universe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  2. Lynn Love

    I love this Chris – your language, the imagery of hunting dragonflies and dragons. Knights and Grendel and glass walled tombs, all suggest that imagination only a child really has, to be able to throw yourself into the detail of the real world and come out with a huge, imagined one. Fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Calmgrove Post author

      I really enjoyed writing this, but I needed the fillip of a writing class to get down to it and am so glad I did! It was a memory of catching these creatures on waste ground in Hong Kong in around 1955 that was the stimulus, all those subsequent mythic and fairytale analogies occurring later but, I’m sure, latent then! So pleased you enjoyed this, Lynn!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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