Day of The Dragon

Helen Sheil (October 1999)

The day I first saw the dragon

sparkled with spring sunshine.

I’d gone to the creek to walk with local people

to better glimpse their dreams.

They were new acquaintances

but felt like old friends.

Rather like my husbands’ son

who I’d recently met when he was 26.

So like his father

it was difficult not to assume

a knowledge and closeness.

That had no foundation

in his life experience.


The night before we walked

thunder had rolled

and clapped right on the town,

then rain and on sunset, a rainbow

both ends here in Nowa Nowa.


The earth by the creek had that smell

of damp rotting life

a smell I’d forgotten existed

working as I then did amongst

concrete paths and buildings with air conditioners.

The smell instantly linked my memory

to home and love and heartbreak.

Of days walking along our track

by the Cabbage Tree Creek

with babies and goats

of clematis in canopies over the tree ferns

above our heads.


All this came in with my breath

stopping me in my tracks.

As the memories expanded

threatening to escape

in words and stories

to these people who were showing

me their place.


I had to stop myself.

It was their time to talk.

So I looked, walked and listened

noted trees, flowers, fairy dells and houses,

and grand amphitheaters for local performances.

Heard children’s voices by the river.

witnessed generosity

‘You can plant the garden.’

An offer made to a partner in a new venture.

A gift of new opportunities.


We passed the cherry trees

a gift from the Shire

given without discussion

and received with dubious delight.

Room for improvement in that relationship

but invisibility no longer the issue.

as the community planned and worked together.


We spoke of guardians of the rivers

wondering about words

to better reflect the soul of this place.

Coming from other countries were stories

of trolls under the bridge. Maybe bunyips?

But they didn’t quite fit the bridge over Boggy Creek.

Kippling’s stories of evil growing greenness

needed adapting to the Southern Hemisphere

into the life and vibrancy of spring.

the time before flys and mozzies.

of blossoms along the river

bringing the fish and birds.

The sky blue and the bush green.


Conversations moved to other people and places

of families.  Of stories that didn’t get written.


Talking of life, we also talked of death.

Of ways we grieve.

This time there was a space

for emotions to surface.

Then a time to sit quietly

By the water.


It was then we saw the Snowy River Dragon

Here on the arm of Lake Tyers

Beautiful greens and yellows

on the spikes and scales

shining in the sun

yet disguised by the country

to which it belongs.

A liberating day,

the day I met first met the water dragon.

July 13, 2019