At five she started school, determined to
stand firm when bullied, not be made to gag on
frog spawn or slugs. She’d thought the subject through.
Her invisible friend was a dragon.
So when the playground gangs began to fight
and pick on her - her teeth, her walk, her hair -
she’d call him up, invoke his savage bite
for self-defence, pretend he’s really there.
She named him Gerald, talked to him in bed
when darkness threatened, told him everything.
He’d listen, snuggle down; she knew his head
was working on her problems. And he’d sing.
St George, she felt, had made a great mistake
killing the maiden’s pet. It made no sense.
She kept her dragon secret, let him take
no risks on her behalf beyond defence.
She grew up, and forgot, as children do -
his hidden life meant no one could remind
her of her childhood silliness. Or laugh. On cue
she fell in love (a dullish man), and blind
to how imagination powers a life.
His boast: I’m tough, a dragon-killer, me.
Couldn’t believe she wouldn’t be his wife.
And once again the dragon kept her free.
D. A. Prince
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