The "An Old Man Lies Down with the Lion" is the companion poem to Damen's "Boyhood Coat of Mail" & "Reborned Old Man"
An Old Man Lies Down with the Lion
In an old book
of Zen teaching,
I come now across a note, written in my own hand, twenty five years ago.
The lion must slay the dragon. Each scale bears the words, “Thou shall.” When the dragon is slain, one is reborn as a child.
I was delivered into this world with the dragon’s egg
nestled in my breast.
I cannot remember the day
it emerged from its shell, first a peep, later a snarl. I have felt its hunger since boyhood.
One midnight it moved its lair
to the lower bitter regions of my soul.
It began to feed on
what I feared and prayed against.
Neither of us knows what it guards or why.
Nights, the dragon climbs my rib ladder
to lay its head against my heart, lulled to sleep by the drumbeat.
It is prisoner to the heavy coat of mail
which no sword can pierce, prisoner
To the weight of idle years,
the taste of sulphur and ash, the bars of bone. Its every dream beckons the lion,
the great jaws tearing open the soft underbelly, Releasing the dragon from its troth.
The dragon’s death marks my birthday. I do not wish to be a child again.
Thou shall lie down with the lion.
Thou shall be reborn as an old man. --Maj Ragain