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October 29, 2000|Ann Stanford | From "In Mediterranean Air" by Ann Stanford (Viking: 88 pp., out of print)

In the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius

he hunted hives of wild bees

breaking open the hollows of wood or bone

seizing the sweet marrow.

Quicker than grasshoppers

he crunched wing and belly.

His face gnarled under the sun.

At night he crawled under

a goatskin. The air was thin out there

the stars big as melons.

The brook for water or washing in

or to cleanse the occasional stranger of his wickedness.

His hair matted. His dry beard

bristled away from his jaw.

Ravens flew by sometimes. Small groups of men

he shouted to, came, bringing others.

Clearly the world couldn't go on like this.

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