Sarah Slept With Dragons, and Flirted Now and Then

(About a 6 minute read)

Some decades ago, when I was in my early 40s, I had a young friend named Sarah.  She would sometimes skip her classes to come sit with me at the coffee shop.

That is, she was one of four or six young ladies who would single me out to sit with even when there were handsome boys at the shop who she could have been sitting with.

The two of us would have lively, fast-paced conversations on subjects that ranged well beyond the usual topics of high school students — love, sex, relationships, popular entertainments, and god.  She and I would sometimes indulge in politics, art, music genres, psychology, literature, and other “exotic” topics as well.

Sarah was quite artistic, and determined to make the visual arts her career.  Indeed, a few short years later, she left town to attend an art school in Denver.  I easily formed an impression of her as a strong, intelligent, free-spirited woman even at sixteen.

Only once did I know her to get into a bit of trouble.  A young Irishman in his early twenties took an interest in her, and she consented to date him.  I met him soon after Sarah herself did, and he almost immediately alarmed me.  He gave off the vibes of an abuser.

But Sarah was curious about him and too confident in herself to take seriously my hints he might be a jerk.  “I’ll be cautious”, she promised, but that was all she did.  But to my extreme relief, she quickly enough saw through him, and dumped him in under a month.

Like so many young women, Sarah seldom said anything to indicate she was proud of her agile mind — or even properly noticed that she had one — but she was not only creative, she was quite rational and intelligent too.  I sometimes thought she preferred sitting with me because I was more her match than most of the boys her own age.

My hunch seemed confirmed one day when we were siting side by side in a booth at the coffee shop, and she started talking about her love for flirting with older men, such as men my own age.  She pointed out that she knew it couldn’t go anywhere, but that older men were skilled enough to make things fun anyhow.

Moreover, she appreciated how they sharpened her own flirting skills, and more generally, challenged her to mature as a person.  Naturally, I thought such an analysis on the part of a sixteen year old was extraordinary.

But then she turned to me, “Why do you never flirt with me, Paul?  Am I ugly, or are you just being a jerk?  I need to know.”

That cracked both of us up, and so that evening I went home and composed a poem about her as a redemptive offering to her outraged spirit. The poem has a swing to it, and begins:

She’s a woman in the grace of sixteen summers
With skirts flowing in the morning sun

“Grace” here was my “clever” way of referencing the fact Sarah had a graceful walk.  She was tall for her age and well proportioned too.  Consequently, her favorite clothing — well-fitted, long paisley-printed cotton dresses — not only looked good on her, but also tended to sway with her movements.

With me, she was sometimes frank and open about minor, but intimate, things.  For instance, she casually mentioned one day that she was uncomfortable in panties, and so didn’t wear any most days.

That was a fact I once confirmed when she stood between me and the sun one day with her legs a bit apart and the shadows of her pubic hair revealed to me.  It was morning, and so “morning” came naturally to me when I was writing the poem, but then — I realized that Sarah, at sixteen, was also in the morning of her life.  What a happy fit indeed!

And she speaks of the silver man ringed naked
A dancer who dances alone

Sarah had a peculiar ring, made of silver, that could be separated into two rings.  One of those rings consisted of a male figure, the other of a female figure.  When the rings were joined together, the figures looked as if they were laying in each other’s arms.

Sarah had given the female ring to the Irishman and he had refused to return it to her after their break-up.  Hence, “the silver man ringed naked” was alone.

As for his being a dancer,  that was merely my way of saying “A lover”, for I sometimes call lovers, “dancers”.

For her jewels have all lost their partners
But the moon still laughs in one ear

Sarah also had a favorite earring, a laughing man in the moon, but she’d lost one of the pair.  Nevertheless, she wore the one she had left.

And she sleeps in the shadow of dragons
With a heart uncorrupted by fear

According to her, she had spent her “whole life” in love with dragons.  She could certainly draw them lightening fast — which, of course, is a skill that only comes with practice.  I once saw her blitz out a beautifully terrifying dragon in exquisite detail, and in under a quarter hour.

Sarah so loved dragons that she slept with them.  That’s to say, she had a lamp made with its sides cut out in the shapes of several dragons.  When a candle was lit inside it, the lamp would cast shadows of dragons on the walls of her bedroom — shadows that flickered and moved with the candle flames.

As for “fear”, if she had any serious fears or anxieties at all, she was outstanding at hiding them.

And that’s the end of the poem.

You might wonder now how it came that Sarah had both the strength and the wisdom to leave the Irishman at the very first sign of trouble — especially if, like me, you know how common it is for sixteen year olds to get in over their heads.

That puzzled me until one day she spoke at length about her father.  It seemed to me that she idolized him.  He was a well-educated professional, a humorous, kind, and gentle man that she could freely confide in.

Though she didn’t say it, I eventually came to realize — not just because of Sarah, but because of many other young ladies — that a woman’s father is her best defense against being abused because he has the greatest influence on her in terms of teaching her how she should properly be treated.

Here now is the merged poem in its entirety:

She’s a woman in the grace of sixteen summers
With skirts flowing in the morning sun
And she speaks of the silver man ringed naked
A dancer who dances alone
For her jewels have all lost their partners
But the moon still laughs in one ear
And she sleeps in the shadow of dragons
With a heart uncorrupted by fear

8 thoughts on “Sarah Slept With Dragons, and Flirted Now and Then”

      1. I don’t believe in old souls except as a possibility and a metaphor, but I know what you’re talking about. Unfortunately, not all such people amount to anything. I am often enough told by people to be an old soul myself, and yet, few of them are as dangerously foolish as I am.


    1. I’m shocked, David! You have no blog. Folks are wondering now why that is? Have you just not felt the attraction of it? Are you like a friend of mine who devours books but has no desire to write?


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