When myths were young, steam still rose
from caves and deep earth where God
kept them safe for prophets and troubadours.
Dragons were not quite so fearsome then,
their fire-breath keeping stories soft
like an ironworker’s blast furnace.
Saints didn’t know how to become saints
yet, so it was simpler to perform miracles:
one followed the path with the most heat.
Dragons posed threat only as water grew
silent and surfaced for want of songs
with solid endings to cool their throats.
So, they pierced sweet-voiced maids to their ears,
waiting where familiar streams emerged
cleanest for the soldering touch of holy men.
When George appeared to her in last wavelength
of color serpent eyes can see, ash-covered as she,
neither of them yet knew the true nature of heat:
the dragon’s skin was never lacerated
on a wheel of swords to keep from burning;
George never knew what it was to have flame
in the throat so hot words hurl forth
like embers, branding ears with curses
even when they mean hello or help me.
They fell inside each other, nonetheless.
George cupped water in his hands and the dragon
drank until her scales froze into George’s flesh.
Beyond stories, dragons still seek deeper endings
and swords get sharper by the day, but truly
a saint has never slain a dragon. He became her.