"Mother Dragon" by Samara Garfinkle
“In this kind of business, all your flowers
are like your children.” —Tamey Lau
At worlds and Miles’ End,
There lives the Mother Dragon
Whose scales quilt
The stuccoed brickface
With winding forest-green
And floral lace.
White bird-cages tumble gracefully in a hoop-skirt cascade,
And you marvel at the sight on your Rue Bernard promenade
Wond’ring whether they house fairy bluebell, or mandrake,
Or phoenix eye fruit that might live and die In those magical ashes
Of our predecessors’ wake.
(Most of these cages are, curiously, empty;
The rest are too high up for you to peer in.)
But we open up to take you in:
Mother Dragon will often say
She has only fourteen children,
But why not ask us?: we are in the thousands,
Brother and sister seedlings,
Endless plants and blossoms:
Umbrella papyrus our introverted artist Resilient pothos / devil’s ivy with ability to thrive
even in dire neglect; Sun-yellow forsythia
with their optimistic foresight for the spring,
unfolding the way for tulips’
divine symmetry (or nearly)
—Then come our
older sisters, summer’s regal
purple orchids; Forget-you-not
the vain queen rose, who loves to be loved;
(Though Darwin would argue
The orchid is a star above.)
Nevertheless, our Mother plays no favourites
Among her many children. (Aside from her buttercup, The lustrous ranunculus.)
If curious, you can glimpse her
At all hours at her storefront,
Perhaps partaking in a fresh mimosa flower
(In the scent, of course! Never, never for consumption)—
You see, a curious customer once asked about a lemon tree,
Naively wanting to eat the sour produce.
Our Mother roared in return,
Smoke drifting in silvery tufts as she spoke:
“Eat it? My babies?
If you wish to eat it, go to the store and buy yourself a lemon.
These lemons are my children.”
(In her fury, some say the customer
Was transfigured into a peony:
But this may simply be—a story.)
In the Fall, you pocket a waxed pumpkin
From a basketed cornucopia and, generous with her hoard,
The Mother Dragon forfeits three roses. You ask how long your pumpkin might last.
She cautions, “It will last forever—
Unless” (like the Wicked Witch of the West)
“It is doused in water.”
Your brother hauls a weeping fig
And Mother Dragon warns him
Not to kill her beloved ficus, as he did the last one,
Lest she breathe her ire and fire.
Your brother tells you with reverence (as you depart)
That he has been adopting us from Mother Dragon
For seven lucky years, once even in the black of night.
“My oh my!—she must sleep on her bed
Of flower children!” we hear your voice
Drifting from afar. You are right, in a way
That cannot quite
“For that which blooms in the dark
Samara Garfinkle is a Montreal-based poet, soprano and voice teacher. Her work has been featured in yolk literary, Lantern Magazine and Columba, and her debut chapbook, Dual Realms, was published by Cactus Press in summer 2022. Samara is the host and co-coordinator of SpeakUp: The Montreal Interactive Poetry Exchange.