The dragon would always wake up
with droplets of fire coating the cave walls
like the mist you get if you put your face
too close to the mirror.
This was because he snored.
He snored louder than the torrents of a river. When he walked,
his toes spat fissures like fireworks. The ground was faithless to his feet.
When he roared fire, the very sky burned.
Willows shriveled seasons in a day.
Mallards disappeared like magic.
Even the tides skipped in their dance,
like the needle of a gramophone meeting a scratch.
When he was a boy,
his dolls had crumpled in his hands like sugar cookies.
He marked out paths with broken china,
pretending to be Hansel with his hands full of bread crumbs.
He loved that story. He loved the textures of the words.
He loved pages, how they lent him some camouflage,
how they let him borrow a superhero cape
when he already knew he was going to be the villain.
But stories are paper
and everything burnt near him.
He was always shrouded in smoke.
As time went on, the horizontal stripes of pages
looked less like welcome trumpets
and more like a cage’s bars.
He traded the quill crying ink
for the feather of the geese he stole,
dripping with blood.