I have been to see the dragon’s skin … and this is what it looks like.
Where I live, the Earth is a mellow creature. It doesn’t move beneath my feet or spew into the sky or break open very often. Folk here are focused more on the sky and the changeable—sometimes wicked—weather it brings us. We never doubt the solidity of the ground we’ve built our lives upon because it so rarely fails us.
We shouldn’t be so trusting.
The Earth is a living, breathing entity … a dragon, if you will. And that is never more evident than where this dragon is daily making itself new. On the island of Hawaii, the Big Island, the ground swells, it puffs poisonous, sulfurous smoke from open red sores and hundreds of bottomless cracks. It disgorges slow-moving lava fields that surround and torch homes, highways, and fields. It creeps downhill to fill a once-beautiful cove with 20-30 feet of solid black rock, rippled like skin.
The Earth lives here, and the people live with it, and nature takes hold of the rock—very quickly, it seems, finding footholds for pollen and seedlings in seams filled with windblown dust. Dragon skin is fertile, apparently, or the islands built by these forces wouldn’t be so lush.
We think of dragons as mythical creatures, armor-plated and breathing fire. I think of them as having skin like this, and sleeping—ever so restlessly—beneath our feet.