The night lay like a careful, sensing hand on the valley. Its gentleness was that of a beast wanting to take its captive's pulse, but you know I love the night, just as I love the beast in his lonely, dusty castle. I trust the night - and so I knew not to trust the valley.
It scratched and shifted surreptitiously wherever it could beneath the watchful stars, the worried moon. It exuded damp. And in its forests lights moved, and the canopy bore a great pale shape of a dragon. I spent a long time looking at that dragon, wondering how on earth it had formed, since the moon was too small and the neighbour's porch light too mellow. I kept blinking, for I was sure my eyes must be deceiving me - never before had I encountered such brazen magic.
"Do you see it too?" I whispered, some time around midnight.
"Yes. Go to sleep, don't think about it."
But I couldn't stop thinking about it. I am not good at letting dragons go.
It was my own fault, of course, for camping anywhere in this ghosted country. Who knows what wars were fought in the valley? What old prayers were murmured in a place where moon-eyed dragons once walked for real, and where ancient trees had grown until men wanted a clear valley?
While I was away, Standing Rock celebrated a victory. I cried as I stood on a beach, reading the news. I cried again when I came home to find my sky laddered and walked through by men with hammers and drills. Another house is going up in my crowded neighbourhood. No longer will I be able to see the sea's breath foaming in the pale.
As I looked at it, I thought of steel snakes burrowing through graves and leeching poison into rivers ... and of valleys where roots of trees and secrets have been yanked out so callously that magic stains the remaining forest peacelessly, untempered, uncomprehended anymore ... and the sky, such a scape of stories, of dreams and biological niches, invaded more and more by steel, glass, fumes ...
And I wondered why was I scared of an old forest dragon of light and leftover magic, when I live in a pack of the most dangerous monsters of all.
Often, I want to run away to the wild places so I can be with trees and a great diversity of birds, and every quiet morning I can experience the rain rising from the earth. Other times, I want to stand here in suburbia with my pen and paper, urgently writing the fading songs of dragons and dryads, breezes and mud-crouching trolls, edge-watchers and sky-singers, before they all become ghosts.