ANCESTOR IN TRAINING

i like to imagine that every mythical creature is somebody's child, somebody
who became so drenched in lore and life that it poured into their pores and
reshaped their retinas and stomach and heart 

shaped by the memory of memory, dragons hold tales in their eyes and in the
linings of their livers, their bodily functions kept running by the memory 
of memory 

the eve of my high school graduation, i dreamed 
about a dragon who lived in the burnt out husk of a tree at the base of a
snow-table clothed mountain 

her belly hung low, still full from her long-gone days of tasting the yellow
band that the sun cast in the frost-riddled sky 
she clung to the land like a meteor not yet raveled 

her eyes glistened, 
but not like a star 
more like a wound 
 
one of her stab-sharp claws slowly reached out, 
piercing into my shoulder i didn’t feel a thing 
my upper left chest just ached a bit; phantom heart pains, i guess 

standing there, breathing in the rhythm of her sleep-slow 
heartbeat, the hand i’d fisted since birth softened into open. 
the dragon spoke to me without her mouth: 

rest yourself, baby. put your head 
on my shoulder, touch your skin to mine 
let’s start a new universe, hmm? 

and i could feel it in the way my throat was suddenly 
conscious of what kept it moist and by the way i held reality not by the throat
but by the hand: I was somebody’s child.
i woke up, 
skin still against skin, 
chest bruised in the shape of a wing.

Yasmine Bolden is a Pushcart Prize and Scholastic American Voices nominated Black American poet, author, part-time creative writing coach, and bear hug enthusiast. Her work has found homes in Love Letters: To the Mothers and Fathers of the African Diaspora anthology, Perhappened Magazine, and Salima Magazine among others. At heart, she's still the voracious reader who talked her way into getting more than the five book limit from her elementary school library. You can find her carrying on about Wakanda and the moon on Twitter @blkpunningpoet.