Slanting on tsikoudia legs,
he bent his way through the door,
leaving his tales behind,
telling in my head.
They told me he was mad.
He claimed to dance with Dryads
in the oak woods,
pipe with Pan and Apollo
in the darkenings,
where time is lost and always in the past.
Yet these were not senility’s murmurings,
as a youth he often told of such events,
entrancing child and parent with his tales.
Old men, gnarled as ancient olive trees,
would sit bemused and hushed,
listening with intent.
Sought by the Germans,
it came as no surprise, they said,
when he vanished in his sacred groves
over sixty years ago,
on the night of the Feast of Dionysus
from far more ancient times.
The soldiers pursued him.
Out of the moonlight into the woods
where they faded to shades,
flitting ghosts between the trees,
shadows sucked into black.
In time they were all found,
ivy-bound to oaks, moon pale and bloodless.
Torn off limbs lay half consumed,
in nests of blood black leaves.
No-one blamed the Maenads,
others would have called them mad;
mad as the storyteller,
who drifted from the woods
when the war was over.
He claimed to have been
With Hermes and Apollo,
making the best tortoise-shell lyre
ever heard on Olympus.