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Here there be dragons

Here there be dragons

Tammy November 30, 2016 1 comment
"Jessie's Dragon" stand -alone ceramic sculpture by Tammy Vitale
"Jessie's Dragon" stand -alone ceramic sculpture by Tammy Vitale

“Jessie’s Dragon” stand -alone ceramic sculpture by Tammy Vitale

This morning Sylvia of Wild Talewort Missives and The Gleewoman’s Notes left one of her beautiful newsletters in my inbox – I often feel like she is a sprite of some sort.  Her writing is otherwordly.  Today she wrote of dragons.  I write of dragons.  Not like her but the theme of hers today was so much like one I wrote almost 20 years ago I had to send her a cc, and put it here to share.

Here is her story, “To My Future Granddaughters” – please do take time to read it.

And here is mine:

Song of Ta-Marra’s Child 

Philomena, the grass

has turned blue

and all the beautiful dragons

have died, their peacock scales hung

in the square

to be broken by rock throwers

like so many common dinner plates.

It is my fault –

the last dragon came to me for shelter

and I turned her away

just like I laughed at the

old women who picked the wild mustard

and wrapped magic in wet steaming leaves.


Philomena, the world is crying

and I don’t know what to do –


show me the caves and rivers,

I will walk unarmed

into darkness

to find the dens of hatchling dragons

the ones who may still be there

even now.


Oh, Philomena, just one more time

I want to hear their discordant songs.

"The Emperor" ceramic dragon-torso wall-sculpture by Tammy Vitale

“The Emperor” ceramic dragon-torso wall-sculpture by Tammy Vitale


Philomena, Holder of the Purple Moon

Keeper of the sacred Evenstar Flower

I have discarded the clothes of my father

I have traveled your path on my knees

I have crossed through the Gate of No                       Return

to lay before you, to touch your hem


Tell me the Way to Mother Crab

that I may gather the threads she weaves

tie them into a ladder and

descend into the Abyss to find the key

I can use to unlock Memory

to find the moment when I turned away

from the mothers’ ways, lost my name

and let the dragons die.




Daughter of Ta-Marra, we have awaited your coming since Time brought Death to our land.  Your name is written on the tablets in the space between black and white.  What you need to know has always been written in your heart.  Sit here and we will listen together.



In the space between the cavern’s dark

and the fire light the Heart flows

like a river whispering all the names

ever lost or given away and

in the quiet I heard for the first time

the wax and flow of the seasons spiraling

followed the murmuring to where it became

a roar in an ocean I had forgotten I knew

a roar that sounded like dragons laughing.


Under the roar I heard the ancient

stories and I heard the words stretching

backward and forward like the threads

of Mother Crab, and recognized the Way

I had been seeking.  And I saw the Way was

too long for Memory, and I saw that I

would have to trust to see this Way by          Heart.

I thought it was you, Philomena, who

held my hand but awoke to find myself        alone


amidst the faint scent of charred oak wood,

cave wet, and the particular smell of

pine boughs and Evenstar flowers. I saw

a hall I had not noticed before and heard

the beginning of my name flow through the             hall

like wind, saw a path that seemed to             shimmer

between the walls of white and black

like a shadow of something I should remember.

Oh, Philomena, the path faces North.



I have always wondered

where dreams come from

the crooked houses where I walk

upside down, go backwards

through doors, find whole sections

that were never there before


in dreams I can fly, sometimes,

and sometimes not, sometimes even

walking seems too hard, breath

coming in short gasps as night

closes in and the sky is dotted

with white lights, the kind the

legends allude to, the ones that

burn in and out the same way eyes

open and close; candles that

don’t know what they want to be,

killing moths without trying.





In my dream there are women weaving

tapestries that intertwine.

In the past I did not know them but now I    can say their names.


Mickie sends me buttercups pressed in                    purple tissue.

She writes words on black paper

cuts angels from discarded sheets.


Lucie sends me a dried acorn

along with a red feather, wishes me dark      earth and blue sky.

She tells me she has learned to fly but her    life is not easy.


Evie wears a torn dress

has brambles in her hair and runs barefoot   through the nettles.

She feels pain    she feels pain and fashions something beautiful.




Consider what the women feel

as they peel back fabric


layers used to fashion

safety in their lives    Imagine


the clarity of the air

its sparkle    as silk threads

emerge whispering

forgotten songs


Weigh the tender care

of uneven stitches


as the women shape

something new




Philomena, the days and nights

are filled with walking

and I don’t know where I am

whether I move up or down

back or forth or if

I am standing still;

perhaps it is I am sitting.

The white wall is as blinding

as the black – my eyes are useless.

The wind never stops

it pulls and snarls my hair

tears my cape and scrapes my skin

like sandpaper.  It moans and moans

like a woman keening for children

who are dead –


Philomena, there has been

no sign of dragons.




Somewhere I stop standing


and becomes the ocean of


and water through which


have been moving since








in pale violet silence


and then, Philomena, at last





split apart like a cocoon

splits at its time; white and

black shatter like jewels

scattering flakes of obsidian

chips of diamond on the floor

reflecting like tiny mirrors

where I can see myself
I float

over all of this

everything swirling


grease slick

on the open sea

colors flashing    not jewels

but something like

that – pretty, pretty, pretty

and I want them

these pretty, pretty things

and fall to the floor

to gather them in my arms.




Philomena, I have found the treasures

long hidden, they flash in my hands

in my hair, not just black and white

but blue and red and all the shades

between, sometimes I even see green

and flicks of yellow and all I have

to do is reach out and there they are

just waiting, almost real, they feel

happy in my arms, it would be a sin

to leave these pretties here all alone

in this void.  Why, I’d say, if dragons

were to come anywhere at all, it would

be right here because dragons like

pretty things that sparkle, don’t they?

Or is it that dragons sparkle by them-

selves or is it that there never was

any such thing at all as dragons –

just these pretty, pretty gleaming

piles of …








for throwing

so I threw them


there was nothing left






Skyline that extends forever,

broken only by clocks that run backwards

sundials that cast no shadows

the smell of something old and forgotten

like birth blood,

to whom shall I whisper my truths?  There is

no one else – never was.  There are no            dragons,

never were.  The sky is blue here, cerulean

my eyes say; then my heart says no, no

it is all gray

and the word sticks in my throat

while my hand reaches for something just a

little to the left, too far away to touch

even when I stretch my fingers out as far

as they can go,







In my dream I am walking a ledge, shuffling

closer and closer to an edge of air.  All          around

there is a curious hum

constant as a beating heart

and as thoughtless, a live thing inside a

live thing that is not conscious but

requires movement and sound nonetheless.

Behind me there is a stirring, a feeling

that runs between shoulder blades, a tension

at the base of the neck.  I look down, try

to see where I am going, and see claws

that move with my volition – I am not

surprised, as though I have spent my whole

life on four legs instead of two, as

though claws make as much sense as

wilting clocks, wailing wind and stones

that clatter down a mountainside in the

middle of a flat, flat plain.




the stage was set

before time began


no changes allowed


now, like an animal caught

in a too small cage

I pace

all coiled senses

fevered flesh


breath comes

quick as nightfall

when sunsweat

kisses earthdamp



and Night closes in


her answer to my cry



I have followed invisible threads

tread paths that were not there

walked off the rim of the earth

to find you, Mother Crab,

and found myself in the netting

of your lace climbing its lattice

as though I understood the motions

of my hands and feet, my talons and claws.

What claim can I make to this knowing

that sways like orchids after a rain

all white and shining and radiant?

The language is foreign, it hurts

my teeth, falls bitterly from my tongue.

My skin is become scales from sand

and wind; my eyes, accustomed to

dark, are hooded.  What is the

brilliance of flame to a moth,


creature of nighttime?  Must we all

come willing to be scorched clean?




Child of Ta-Marra if you continue to look only left you will soon be chasing your tail in circles.  Look to the right for connecting rays to build the ladder sides. And if your skin doesn’t fit, shed it.



Ah, great mysteries, this

this is what it comes to

skin myself alive or

dive into the fire

and all I ever wanted

was to find the one last

the one most beautiful dragon

and memorize her songs.




I sing a song of myself

and lift the latch inside

that frees the dragons

bright as flames

as skin drops

softly away.




Consider what the woman feels

as she peels back


layers used to fashion

safety in her life    Imagine


the clarity of the air

its sparkle   as new skin


emerges whispering

forgotten songs


Weigh the tender care

and uneven voice


as the woman sings

something new



The wind bringing the storm

lifts strands of hair

from my neck

forms lines of silver

before my eyes.  The air


black fire and white ice


it feels warm

on my tongue.


Exploring this enchanted path,

breathing leafwet

and grassdew,

below moondark skies,

I meet a presence old

as the Mother

new as tomorrow

and invite her in.


The thoughts in my head

are tangled,

there is mud

between my toes;

in my throat

I hum a melody,

in my mouth

the orange flames



Unfolding newfound wings,

shifting, I soar

above the void

a dragon

once more

singing even the forgotten songs.




The moons wax and wane


the light of sun covering

their rhythmic coming and going

as I sit and sing all the

songs that come to me

not from Memory

not on the wind

but from my Heart

who has known all of this

all along, has beat inside

me as I walked with women

hidden from my eyes

like the moons are hidden

beneath the blindness of sun


light creates dark creates light

through seasons and cycles unnamed


unheralded beneath the business

of quiet.  And you, Philomena,

no saint, no goddess, but Friend

of Heart , friend enough, sitting

patient as stones, knowing what

I could not see – the dragons have

been here all along, the dragons and you.

detail, dragon, wall sculpture by Tammy Vitale

detail, dragon, wall sculpture by Tammy Vitale

In Category : AEDM 2016


  • Joined:
    2009-10-19 15:07:50
    December 1, 2016

    Oh my goodness, what a wonderful post. I do, of course, love love love your work and this piece in particular. It is so rich and inspiring.

    Jessie’s Dragon, and the other dragon wall piece, beautiful. You are definitely multi-talented.

    Keep writing and making such beautiful things. Love it all.

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