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The Shepherd

May 29, 2013

by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee


At dusk the shepherd brings his sheep
up the street, high above the coastal
highway in a suburb of Athens. He
does not greet passersby on motor-
bikes or driving fast cars. He’s headed
toward the fields on the mountainside,
where houses rise like white stones. I
hear the sheep bells first, distant chimes
softly echoing, then louder, and suddenly
bleating, and then the staff prodding the flock
on with brisk taps on the ground. But
mostly, the shepherd simply walks along,
as if I were the one trespassing, as if he
had owned this mountain long before any
of us ever came. And perhaps he did. The
sheep crowd one another along the sides
of the street. The houses lean like tall
figures shadowing the small cotton balls
moving over sunburnt fields. I don’t
think there’s enough for the sheep to eat but then
I remember the hόrta the old women pick
in the vacant lot on the corner.
I had thought they were weeds. I didn’t know
they could feed so many. The shepherd
moves his sheep past my sliding doors.
He glides/guides them down the street.
He disappears with the sun falling
from the Acropolis on a distant cliff.


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Donna J. Gelagotis Lee’s book, On the Altar of Greece, winner of the Gival Press Poetry Award, received a 2007 Eric Hoffer Book Award: Notable for Art Category and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and other awards. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Bitter Oleander, CALYX: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Cimarron Review, Feminist Studies, and The Massachusetts Review. Visit her website at donnajgelagotislee.com.

  1. jeanie
    May 30, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    a beautiful poem i loved listening to thank you

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