Seven of Dragons


The water dragon is friendly.
She will trick you to test the
limits of your fantasy. You
summon her, and out of puffy
clouds every choice you could 
ever dream of flows to you. 
Jewels, castles, flowers, and 
strong medicine to transmute
the darkness float in your eyes. 
The partner you seek is in the air. 
Come down, you sigh. Please, 
come down. Shadows 
in the pockets of your black 
coat plead. But where shall you 
keep the bounty and steer
clear of extremes?

Mildred Kiconco Barya is a North Carolina-based writer, educator, and poet of East African  descent. She’s the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently The Animals of My  Earth School released by Terrapin Books, 2023. Her prose, hybrids, and poems have appeared in  Shenandoah, Joyland, The Cincinnati Review, Tin House, New England Review, and elsewhere. She’s now working on a collection of creative nonfiction, and her essay, “Being Here in This  Body”, won the 2020 Linda Flowers Literary Award and was published in the North Carolina  Literary Review. She serves on the boards of African Writers Trust, Story Parlor, and coordinates  the Poetrio Reading events at Malaprop’s Independent Bookstore/Café. She blogs here: www.mildredbarya.com.