Mountain-Love

I had gone ahead to scout the trail
When I saw them first staring at me,
And now, in the town new-built in the vale,
I can feel them there, elusive and free.

Our people fled from a traitorous land,
And looked to the mountains for a new home.
I vowed to go ahead and with taming hand
Curb the excesses of dirt, ice, and stone.

But the beauty of the mountains tamed me,
Made me linger, staring at the heights,
And make excuses, new things for to see.
It was in the foothills that the first of the sights

That now troubles me calmly appeared.
A unicorn, cantering beside the new trail,
Stared at me as if no human it feared,
And then showed me its hooves and tail.

I rode higher, and brilliant flowers
Caught like fairy jewels in the hard stone
Sparkled at me through the long lonely hours.
Thanks to those flowers, I was never alone.

Though I longed to speak with others
Who could understand me, and answer back,
I grew used to traveling without brothers
Or sisters, just the horse and my pack.

One night as I was watching the moon,
I saw glittering wings pass like desire
Roused by a woman's hair and shy tune.
A dragon came down to share my fire.

A young wyrm, it only could have been,
Staring at me with eyes wide and bright green,
Bearing no thought of the chain or the pen,
Unlike some other dragons I have seen.

It lay beside the fire, wings folded in,
Scarlet scales echoing the fire's red-gold,
Before it abruptly leaped and took the wind.
Though the fire still shone, it left me cold.

Higher, and I heard the talk of chill waterfalls,
Their laughter high and silvery and shrill.
I have heard a gorge where in the stillness calls
Only the voice that does not love anything still.

I looked towards the peaks one afternoon,
And saw wings across the sun shine and pass.
But this was not like the dragon against the moon;
This creature was fair and feral as a burning glass.

It landed on the stone just above me and said
Warning words in a language that was scion
Of pride and courage, creature with eagle head,
Eagle wings and talons, the body of a lion,

And enough pride to drown a thousand cities.
I watched it stretch its wings and leap for the sun,
And knew my people would fear it. A thousand pities!
I love to watch the gryphons in the sky soar and run.

But my people followed behind me, and tamed
The wild mountains that I fell in love with.
And they have not seen those creatures, claimed
That I am under the influence of legend and myth.

Ah, then let my heart be taken by the stories!
Coming to this vale has not quenched my desire
To find the haunts of other unearthly glories,
Has not laid to rest mountain-love like wildfire.

My people need my help no longer, with fields
That give them corn, trees to give them fruit,
And even the wombs of mothers giving a yield
That makes our people overflowing with loot.

I will leave them, and go to where they wait,
The dragons and gryphons riding on the wind,
The unicorns passing beyond all bar or gate,
The mountain-love that takes me to my true kin.