Excerpt from my upcoming illustrated children’s novel:
The Dragon That Said “Moo”
There was once a dragon that said “Moo”
because she did not know how to roar or growl
nor did she eat meat, like other dragons do,
preferring fresh milk straight from the cow.
During the day she stayed near the tarn
in the mountains where the flowers bloomed,
but during the night she hid in a barn
to keep safe when the shadows loomed.
She was not a big dragon; in fact, she was small
like a newt in the garden, beneath the urns,
or a salamander scurrying down a wall
near the hearth where the fireplace burns.
But even though the dragon meant no harm
as it drank from the cows every day
it grew larger and drank all the milk at the dairy farm
until the dairy had none to sell to earn its pay.
The dairy was on the old Wyndelle homestead
where the mists of the morning were sleepy
and the day always rose groggy from its mountain bed
while the night slithered away, slow and creepy.
But then one fateful morning, at the crack of dawn,
the farmer’s daughter went to milk a cow
with a bucket in hand, crossing the dewy lawn
past the rusty tractor and its muddy plow.
Gwen was not a princess needing saving
from a tower of drama like other girls her age;
she never had the instinct, nor the craving,
for gossip or rumor or theatrical outrage.
Her parents had real problems to worry about,
which meant Gwen had to worry about them, too,
especially now that the cows were suffering a drought
and they could not pay the bills that were due.
As Gwen sat on her stool, trying to milk Belle,
she worried that the cows would continue to be dry
and, so, would have to be taken to market to sell
for hamburgers and steaks, and whatever else people might buy.
Gwen began to weep and petted Belle on her flank,
wondering if there was any way to save her favorite cow,
but knowing that her family would lose everything to the bank
if it did not receive the money somehow.
Gwen heard a noise coming from a stall.
Startled, she went to see what it could have been,
thinking it might be a racoon or rat or mouse, maybe all,
and was completely surprised by what she found then.
It was the dairy dragon, now grown massive,
and she stared back at Gwen, both of them frightened,
until the dragon said “Moo”, its eyes passive
so that the mood suddenly lightened.
Reaching out a hand, Gwen touched the dragon’s chin
and the dragon did not seem to mind at all,
so Gwen petted it behind its ear, around again
to its nose and its forehead and its jaw.
The dragon sniffed Gwen and learned her smell
so she would know her from then hence,
because dragons were only ever able to tell
one human from the other by their scent.
Gwen named her new friend after her favorite flower, “Clover”,
since the dragon had both eyes that were a lovely green
and smooth scales were a vivid purple all over
like the bulbs of those plants, with a pinkish sheen.
When Gwen had finished her chores every morning
she would see Clover before heading to the bus
and while in Science class, which she found somewhat boring,
she would think about being a Dragon biologist.