ONCE THERE WERE DRAGONS
As I was passing through a lakeside village yesterday morning on my way south, I saw a young fellow in a traditional men's kimono, calling into the doorway of a house. He caught my eye not only because of the kimono in everyday public on a daily street, but also because he was wearing a non-traditional backpack that was red and shiny - like some of the newer ones are these days - but oddly shaped, from what I could see.
Then he turned and began dancing, right there on the otherwise empty sidewalk, on the empty street of the Saturday morning village, his hands waving about in the prescribed manner of Japanese folk dance, and as he turned and turned I could see that the red part of the ‘backpack’ was in fact the stylized head of a red dragon; the lower part was a soft, truncated representation of the scaly dragon body. Then a drum and flute sounded, as his two accompanists - a minimal crew, also in kimono - emerged from behind the tall hedge and the trio began to perform.
Apparently they were going through the village in the new fashion, stopping only at households that opened to them and exorcising the demons there, of the kind to be found in every household in the world, if truth be told - and in many countries there are just the dragons needed to resolve the matter - but local public interest in demon rousting appears to be reaching new lows; just enough is budgeted now to satisfy the few elder residents who remember the old days, and still demand dragons.
This was the remnant of what once was a feisty village festival, in which a full-bodied, multi-citizened, demon-snapping dragon went whirling through the crowded streets from house to house of open doors, purifying each home with snapping jaws and writhing dance to many drums and flutes, creating strong memories of confidence in the little kids and reinforcing family solidarity against the demons that ever abide...
Now it is but a vestige, like the dragon's tail... like the dragon himself, who may soon be gone; there have been signs of dragon deficiency...
Where will time take us, when the dragons are no more?