Into The Country Of The Gadarenes
Arthritic fingers of the olive trees
by AM Juster
Accuse the sun of ancient injuries.
The shallows harden to an ochre crust
While bony cattle huddle in the dust.
The wretched one who tears his flesh resumes
His bellowing from somewhere in the tombs.
The sky assumes a tyrant's glare. Despite
Our lust for rain, we fear the eerie night.
Dogs whimper softly. An unearthly dawn
Ignites some whispers that the dead will yawn.
We spot a boat; pigs and children squeal.
We bicker over whether it is real.
A striking figure stands beside the sail.
His patchwork crew appears a little pale.
A crowd surrounds him as he steps ashore
But no one fears his coming anymore.
With all the noise, I cannot be exact
About what happened when the wretch attacked.
The visitor, from what my friends could tell,
Dazed his attacker with some kind of spell.
After berating unseen demons, he
Commanded them to set their hostage free.
We trembled as he spoke. He made a sign
And charged the demons to inhabit swine.
Immediately nearby pigs began
To froth and moan; the wretch became a man.
The pigs escaped; no one could make them stop.
The swineherds muttered, but then let it drop.