Twenty people and three hundred cats
live in this Greek village—
kittens and moggies squeeze between
rocks and rubbled spaces, unbothered, safe.
But hunger makes anything bold.
When my American children call to coax them out,
the cats run to be pet and cuddled.
I’ve never seen such affectionate cats before,
mewling for food and what my daughter
deliberately drops from the outdoor restaurant table.
But diseases. Half the cats blind in one eye.
Half tattered and suspicious.
After the war, generations of Greek people
never had pets, let alone enough food for themselves.
Thus, their rough mentality toward animals—
the boot or the broom.
Rare for any Greek family to own an actual pet,
which only the wealthy could afford.
In this village, no person feeds them
and still they survive.
Like good tourists, my children spend their summer light
learning patience, kindness to all poor creatures,
the purring and the scattering, the ignoring and the caring,
the begging to bring them home.