PORTRAIT OF A DRAGON

First published in 'Dragon Poems', OUP 1991

If I were an artist
I'd paint the portrait
    of a dragon.

To do a proper job
I'd borrow colours
    from the world.

For his back I'd
need a mountain range,
    all misty-blue.
For spikes I'd use
dark fir trees pointing
    to the sky.

For overlapping scales
I'd squeeze dye from
    bright anemones.

I'd gild his claws
I like shining swords
    with starlight.

His tail would be
a river, silver
    in the sun.
For his head, the
secret green of forests
    and deep seas.

And his eyes would
glow like embers in
    a tinker's fire.

But I'd keep the best
till last.  For his
    hot breath

I'd use all reds and
yellows - crocus, saffron,
    peony, poppy,

geranium, cyclamen, rose -
and fierce orange flames
    from a marigold.

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