Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Testing the Metal"

This is the linkback perk poem for the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a question from ellenmillion.  It also fills the "victim" square in my 1-31-14 card for the Origfic Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the series A Conflagration of Dragons.  Linkers include: janetmiles, DW user Perfectworry, wyld_dandelyon, DW user Dialecticdreamer, mdlbear, DW user Nsfwords, mdlbear

WARNING: This poem contains references to rape, cannibalism, racism, and other disturbing topics.  Think about your tastes before you click through.

"Testing the Metal"

Yrsa is always searching
for a safe source of minerals.
She pokes her nose into cracks
in the mountainside, seeking
a taste of sustenance.

She is small for a dragon,
still young, so she hides from
the elder wyrms when she can.

So far it has kept her
from getting eaten,
although she did not escape
the amorous intentions
of Ingeld, who has yet
to secure a hoard
and attract a real mate.

Now Yrsa has eggs in her belly,
slowly weighing her down
as they grow inside her,
leaching the vital nutrients
from her flesh to sustain themselves.

She is always hungry now,
craving silver and mercury,
nickel and magnesium.
Her scales are dark as tarnish,
sparking bright only at her claws.

Of course she needs meat as well,
pouncing on rabbits and squirrels
and careless young deer,
whatever she can catch.
She scavenges as much as hunts.

The mountains are crawling with refugees,
from whom she overhears that
the coastal city of Shaunaka,
the forest city of Jehuti,
and the grassland city of Demas
have all fallen to powerful dragons.

Most of the refugees are Shu,
their soft gliding wings
wrapped limp around their bodies
as they trudge up the rocky trails
in hope of sanctuary.

There are a few others, though,
Madhusudana with their feathered wings
or Beneberak with curling ramlike horns,
trading on individual alliances
to friends among the Eofor
who rule the mountains.

Yrsa skulks around and behind
the refugees, always watchful
in case they drop something
that she can eat.

Once in a great while,
someone loses a silver coin;
famished, she falls upon it
in eager desperation,
gulping it down whole.

Copper buttons are more common
if less satisfying, and occasionally
she finds bits of tin or lead
from lost tools and weights.

The mountain itself is thick with veins
of rich minerals, and Yrsa is
forever following hints of them,
testing the metal to find out
if it is dense enough to meet her needs.

Eventually she finds herself
a small cave with a thread
of nickel running along one wall.
It is barren, but better than nothing,
and the glossy ore gives her
something comforting to lick.

Yrsa has no choice anyway.
The eggs are slowing her down
more and more every day,
and if she doesn't take refuge soon
then some larger, stronger dragon
will eventually catch and eat her.

She has no gleaming hoard
given by an eager mate
or gathered by her own might,
no reserve of vital elements
to help her eggs develop or
feed what hatchlings might emerge.

Still Yrsa has survived this long,
quiet and cunning in her own way.
She will find some means of going on.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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