Postcards from the Underworld: A Tale of the Good and Bad Shepherds
Aetos, Ithaka, Greece
A hot June afternoon
This is the Good Shepherd. Every morning we would drive up to the base of a small mountain enveloped in Athena's mists to start our day's work, excavating this ancient soil, searching for the palace of the famed Odysseus. In the distance we would hear the Good Shepherd's sheep; never seen - hidden in the shadows beneath the peak - but their bells with their haunting rattle, pealing out into the valley.
We had heard the rumors, the whispers, about his brother; the brother who drank Sterno. Beat his wife. We saw him rarely, appearing around the misshapen rosemary bushes the size of washing machines, the clatter of bells as the sheep followed him into the dark ravines. The island was filled with characters, and everybody had a nickname. The brother's was easy: the Bad Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd came around the dig more often. Years ago, one sunny Sunday afternoon, he put a goat on a spit and roasted it for our team.
and do what shepherds do in the midday sun.....rest.
I don't recall his name. But looking back on these images, and remembering him: ever regal, aware of the soil around him as if this ancient landscape was an extension of his very self, there is no doubt in my mind he is a descendant of Odysseus.
Bottom image by William Yonker