Sarakatsani young woman in traditional costume, Pindus Mountains, Greece, photo SlavaBogur, 2008, Wikipedia photo. For this poem, Diōnē.
Sarakatsani young woman in traditional costume, Pindus Mountains, Greece, photo SlavaBogur, 2008, Wikipedia photo. For this poem, Diōnē.

Daughter of Sarkatsani shepherd family, Diōnē
Guided herds of shaggy sheep along Pindus
Mountain trails to elevated summer pasture-
Lands, melodies of bronze bells, with crook
And dog, Ekho, during summer months, they
Camped amongst streams and ancient conifers,
Protecting Aromanian family flocks.

Arduous pastoral journey, Diōnē’s clan migrated
From Thracian plains of Greece through narrow
Highland passes, water-stained rock faces, steadily
Climbing, ever winding, medieval religious rites,
Prayers to protecting earth gods, when arid northern
Homelands, grazed bare, could not feed massive
Herds of roaming sheep.

Lured by toppled temple columns, Diōnē left her
Flock to Ekho’s guiding bark, discovering mystical
Springs, stone cisterns of flowing mountain water.
Here, she filled her water-skin and drank until
Content, slumbering amongst sunlit granite steps.
When she awakened, gods had wrested time’s
Watershed to days of Sybilline Oracles revered.

Placental water of her birth, springs of soul revival,
Diōnē drank from fountains distilled from high
Eternal snows, sight-providing, her mind ascending
Luminous alabaster clouds, transhumance of sheep
Migration, guiding protection of her flock, spiritual
Argosy, twixt fleshed mortality and guiding light
Divine, painted Pindus summits.

Returned to anxious family, Diōnē’s eye-lights burn-
Ished bronze, chaotic harmonies stirred within,
Thoughts pure as water-meadows, her first words as
Seer were riddle-wrought: “A single leaf harnesses
Sun like oxen to a cart, life-sustaining breath, holy
Mountain shrines, until understood, poor mortals will
Never understand the earth.”

Returning to grazing flocks, her puzzled parents and
Wearied Ekho did not recognize Diōnē when she
Recited archaic oracular hymns or fell prostrate in
Obedient prayers to goddess Æthere. Time-restored,
The shattered cyclostyle temple gleamed once more,
Turquoise and gold embellished, naos in regal reds,
Bathed in benthic blues, rising steps of polished stone.

“Mother’s water of my birth, holy fount of my awak-
ening,” Diōnē began in frenzied fits. “A spring dwells
Within us each. Impeding life-currents, remove the rock
Weighing upon your soul. First a trickle will emerge,
Soul-spring of understanding, each a vessel to its fill.”
She announced, “Upon the  temple I must return,
Chosen oracle, guiding my human flock.”

Until too feeble to make the arduous climb to Pindus
Pasturelands, Diōnē’s parents visited her, loyal Ekho
At her side. In vaporous trances, she voiced unerring
Visions reflected in shimmering pools. Time-torn and
Collapsed, the oracular temple sank in overgrowth
Of conifers and berries, mythic legends of Thracian
Shepherds tending sheep on these immortal heights.

“The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” ― Hippocrates

For information on shepherding and transhumance, see this article
by Ionel Calin Micle, University of Oradea, Romania:

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