The Dream Temple Of Kos

The story of Hippocrates is shrouded
in uncertainty

despite these facts.
He trained as a physician

in the Dream Temple Of Kos.
This was back

when Apollo
and Panaceia watched Hippocrates

observe the sick
and injured. He knew

his humours
which, in Latin means moisture

although I doubt
he laughed

until tears ran down his face.
Hippocrates

was too busy
blaming the weather

known as autumn depression
where those inclined to drink

quickly became drunks.
Hippocrates said a lot

about the cause and even today,
nothing much has changed.

 

Taking An Oath

Who wouldn't admire
a man more discreet than opium

imported from Egypt,
how it always leaves a note

on the pillow where dreams
escape the sad woman

wandering like the ghost
of an insomniac with a torch

in her hand. The light
is softer than the solid claw

of night's bitter talk.
At least she can look

forward to a visit
from Hippocrates who says

'Melancholia is moist.
She must be dried'

so he offers red wine and bleeds
her vein. Hippocrates

takes an oath and finally
there is silence.

 

Hippocrates Has Another Dream

It was as cold and dry
as ink

tracing where the fracture
in the skull

was and it was a shame
ink poisoned

what was left
of a war-torn life.

Hippocrates sighed.
His head ached

like a truth
trembling the last

autumn leaf on the tree
outside his bedroom window

where he played as a boy.
In dreams,

he turns to what is warmer
than an epidemic

of winter
in the crowded city of death.

 

Detours

Her clothes are too messy
to mention a trousseau

even though she's in a new
house with a garden of hydrangeas

dropping leaves where thorny
weeds scratch her hands,

draw fine red lines like a trail
that starts and ends too soon.

It's not the same when he
is driving in the country late

at night. When he arrives,
she acts like a superstitious

bride where distance means
there is no need for a map.

 

- Alison Eastley