"Listening to the Lifebeat"
The vampires hunted by scent and by sound,
the sweet perfume of their waiting prey
and the drum-song of blood beating beneath the skin.
They hunted carefully and they claimed gently,
because they were peaceable creatures
and not the monsters that legend made of them.
They knew the sour flavor of fear and the bitterness of pain;
there was no abiding either, for everyone would know
once a vampire returned to the colony to share with others.
They wanted only the natural saltiness of life,
the sweet taste of pleasure thrumming over tongue
to warm their bellies through the cold winter.
The secret lay in listening to the lifebeat,
slow rolling thunder of the heart's rhythm,
quick to sound a warning if anything went wrong.
The vampires could hear everything,
their ears keen far beyond mortal ability,
reading each quiver of muscle and huff of breath.
They would take just enough and not too much,
perfectly in tune with their prey, open to every emotion,
every turn of thought and thrill of desire.
It was this connection that set them apart
from other predators, this particular tenderness
toward their prey that made them different.
It was this, and not their sharp triangular fangs
or their taste for blood, that made some humans
hate them and hunt them and slay them.
This sense of compassion, this devotion to peace,
was what the hunters feared would spread.
The legends were nothing more than a clever cover story.