Born In The Year Of The Dragon

By Maureen Doallas

for Josh Burdette

You slept with dragons
without eyes, your chest,
your arms, that broad back

their shelter, semi-covered lair.
Who knew a man with silver
horns in his nose studied

the Chinese zodiac, believed
in legends no one tells sitting
amid the flash of downtown’s

ink shops? You made choices,
you said, marked your skin
over and over with the sign

of the year you drew your first
breath — yang to snake’s yin.
Hundreds of hours you spent

making your body a showcase,
the artists with their irons
careful to avoid the tangents

that deprive each spirit animal
space to roam your 340 pounds
free on six-foot four-inch frame.

You did security, checked ids,
made the bands feel welcome,
gave in to no temptation but

the tattoos and the piercings.
A guy with a psych degree, you
didn’t get to finish your story.

You always intended to give
them eyes, to let them waken
to leave you when you died.

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