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"The Only Sounds in All of Thebes"

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The pounding of my sandals.
My gasping, sucking breaths.
The drumbeat in my chest.
And something else I have to strain to hear . . .
A footfall from behind,
     like the one that first prodded me
     from a stroll into a run.
Another step-sound,
     like the one that diverted my quest for water
     into a panicked escape through this city
         of crime and disease . . .
     And again!
     And closer!
And yet each time I turn my head,
     the steps
         come only
             from the empty air.
I lean into the hill, legs pumping at a deerfooted pace
like Actaeon must have felt
     fleeing Artemis
         and his own hounds.
The road slopes upward toward Echion's Gate
     on the west side
     of a wall made from
     rocks and boulders
     mashed together
     by one-eyed giants.
     Perched atop the gate,
         the face of Echion
     his silent battle cry.


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