For Christos Georgiou
In the dark long ago I heard the howl.
Upridge, whorls of sound above
Mad Mare Hill. Like nostrils sniffing
an unwanted scent I could turn then
from that contour of night, let ear
and eye shape a day’s bright chant.
Then in brilliant sunset gleam I saw
one trot across a field, teeth clenched,
jaw firm, locked like a sentinel
spotlighting the pitch-black for an uprising.
Dead, the rabbit knew nothing
of the power in that jaw. Or perhaps,
in its way, in its final frantic fury,
it knew all.
To rise up. Once
you told us the story: how they shot
any villager who tried to feed a family
on greens picked in the field of Papoulia.
From the bough of one tree they hung
the bodies, then dumped them in holes
of hot, parched earth. At night, you said,
keen to the scent, a pack came to feed.
It tore, ripped corpses from the dirt.
By morning half-gnawed, tissue-flecked
bones had surfaced like snapped riggings
of sunk ships. And whenever you inhaled
the sweet leaf of that tree, you could not
keep its stench out of your throat.