Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dru Philippou: Hipólito, the Herder

with his crook
he navigates
the rough terrain
early bluegrass
and white clover

villagers liken
the shepherd to
ruddy-limbed Pan
piping to nymphs
nearby a spring

rustic viands
for his fare
and tinkling bells
the heavenly sleep
of the herder

Go down from the trail over the matted dried grass up along the fence; pass the long oblong water trough to the cedar in the distance, shading the grave with a red and yellow tulip. “I planted the bulbs last year!” says a friend. The sheepherder, Hipólito, is buried here. I can still read his name and dates, 1912-1971, carved on the cross. Nothing else is known about him, but hikers are often told, “Go by Hipólito’s grave.”

by Dru Philippou
Tao, New Mexico
first published in
Modern English Tanka V3, N 4 (2009)

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