My mother is a dragon,
scaly-clawed and fire-mouthed,
enormous and settled in her ancient wisdom.
Born where the earth
meets the sun face-to-face,
she has carved out caves for her children
from the forbidding cliffs of a foreign land,
and labors ferociously, day and night,
in teaching them to fly.
It is no easy task: who wants to
leave his snug home, his mother's warm
and beating heart?
And so she growls and pushes,
sends us to school one-by-one,
burns the cookies every now and then.
I am a dragon's daughter,
yet here I am, breathing ice into the early morning,
wings still new and hidden beneath
my winter coat. For now, my legs—slipping
though they are on packed sidewalk snow—will do.
What would my dragon-mother think,
to see me now, half-numb and hungry
in the harsh wind?
Remember to wear a hat, she says,
and tell your brother not to forget his scarf.
The warmth of her voice bleeds through
thin glass against my ear,
an ember to hold beneath my tongue
as I catch my frozen breath
and hold it in my fiery heart till
I am home again.