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THREE MULES And the Queen mounted on the wonderful mule called Margarita , which had belonged to her husband King Peter, and she sat upon the wonderful mule as women do; and she ordered her squire iuho was called Putsurello to bring her spurs with him. And she said to him: "When I make a sign to you, turn my foot over so that I sit like a man and put on my spurs." THE CHRONICLE OF MAKHAlRAS* Letter to Mastro In Damascus one sleepless night I saw an apparition of Oum Haram, the venerable kinswoman of the Prophet. I heard the clatter of hooves like silver dinars, then I saw her, seemingly crossing hills of salt towards Larnaca, astride her mule. I waited there among cool branches biting the fruit of a myrtle bush; a whiteness stung my eyes, maybe the salt, maybe her ghost. And then in the shrubs, a whisper: "It was here that my animal slipped. This stone struck the nape of my translucent neck and I gave up my soul triumphantly. I was full of the will of God; 194 a mule can't bear that much weight; don't forget it, and don't wrong the mule." She spoke and disappeared. Yet, even now her mule still grazes in my mind, as does that other mule, whose heart stopped dead when they freed her of the two coffins, the two brothers unjustly executed by the hangman there in Koutsovendi.* But the greatest of them all, what can I say of her? In a country where those who lived below the castles were forgotten like last year's earth, she still sails free on the wings of fame, the celebrated beast of Queen Eleanora. Against her belly, the golden spurs; on her saddle, those insatiable loins; at her trotting, those jolting breasts ripe as pomegranates with murder. And when Neapolitans, Genoese, and Lombards brought to the royal table on a silver tray, all bloody, the shirt of the murdered king and did in his wretched brother John, I imagine how she must have neighed that night, beyond the apathy of her race, as a dog howls, rich in trappings, golden-crouped, in the stable, Margarita the mule. 195 ...


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