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The Spartan boy who steals a fox
endures with fortitude the roiling mound
scratching at his proud breast under his tunic,
claws hooked in his skin: he keeps
its V-jaws veiled beneath an impassive mien.
The shoppers chatter past without a clue
while it thrashes and tears into his flesh in panic.

He weaves among the helots and hawkers;
the canines engrave his ribs”he lurches around
the Lacedaemonian ladies in the street.
The longer and closer it’s kept, the deeper
the secret gets its teeth into his veins”
he collapses. The rusty beast springs into view
and out of the town on even redder feet.