An ancient night in long ago December
loomed across the forest like a fog,
and dinosaurs of every size and color
shivered under frozen leaf and log.
The winter sapped the animals of strength,
and each despaired of ever being warm;
but hope was struck by lightning in the distance
from a Late Cretaceous thunderstorm.
A flame was spotted in the eastern mountains,
pulsing with a lively orange glow,
yet none would dare approach the peaks, except
the fire thief, her feathers white as snow.
She told the prehistoric animals
that huddled in the icy forest trees,
“Prepare a pit to hold the distant fire;
I’ll bring it back to heat our homes with ease!”
As Pyroraptor journeyed through the woods
she left her footprints in the snow beneath,
and clutched a sturdy branch of verdant holly
tightly with her fierce, determined teeth.
She deftly climbed the distant mountain slopes
with claws for gripping, movements sure and quick,
while leaping up between the snow-capped rocks
in search of fire to light the holly stick.
The promised flames were near extinguished from
the mountain’s only westward facing slope,
but embers from a patch of withered branches
offered Pyroraptor’s greatest hope.
“Alas,” the little fire thief declared,
“I’ve climbed too far and traveled much too high:
although my legs may speed me to my friends,
the branch will be consumed if I should try.”
She set the verdant holly branch aside
and looked around the mountain in dismay,
when lucky chance revealed a hollowed trunk
which, with a push, might make a decent sleigh.
Of course our Pyroraptor knew the risk,
but just as well she had compelling reason;
and so determined that she had no choice,
except to do her best to save the season.
So Pyroraptor took her holly branch
to stick it swiftly in the glowing coals,
and when the branch was fully lit, she leaped
into the crude toboggan’s dugout holes.
Down and down the trunk was sliding soon,
with Pyroraptor riding in the front,
the flaming brand of holly held aloft
in triumph for this daring downhill stunt.
And in the woods, the fire pit was dug
by Iguanodons and other dinosaurs,
while tinder, sticks, and grass were fetched for fuel
by smaller mammals, birds, and pterosaurs.
The storm grew worse, and many animals
fell into deep depression and despair -
but gazing out toward the eastern mountains,
a watchful Martinavis took the air.
Afar he spied a speeding orange glow,
and burst into a loud and hopeful song:
“the fire thief is coming down the mountain,
the fire thief will shortly be along!”
And shortly, Pyroraptor’s makeshift sleigh
was sliding fast toward its destination,
weaving nimbly ‘tween the pines and firs
to bring the forest creatures their salvation.
The log slowed down, and Pyroraptor sprang
to bring on foot her precious holly torch,
and reached the forest clearing none too soon -
the feathers on her snout were being scorched!
“Hurry Pyroraptor!” cried the bird
that saw the sleigh approaching from the hills,
“the pit is dug, the pile of wood is ready,
so throw the torch and save us from these chills!”
The holly branch was up in roaring flame,
and Pyroraptor gave a mighty throw -
the logs and tinder soon were burning, while
the hero cooled her feathers in the snow.
Though all about the northern winds were fiercely
blowing ice and snow across the land,
the flame from Pyroraptor’s log of holly
warmed the forest creatures as she’d planned.
The Hadrosaurs made merry trumpet calls
while squads of Spinolestes jumped and danced,
And every creature hailed the fire thief
with jolly wreaths of green coniferous plants.
They wassailed through the dark and ancient night
for Pyroraptor and her glorious deed,
and woke a sleeping hive of Melittosphex,
begging honey for a brew of mead.
So Pyroraptor and her forest neighbors
passed the winter happy, safe, and warm;
the days grew long, another year began,
a spring devoid of prehistoric storms.