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Portrait of Hippocrates, or Buqrat

By Kim Roberts

from The Falnama of 1703, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

O augury seeker,
          know and be aware
In the book of divination,

Hippocrates rides the simurgh,
          a mythical bird,
                   as he returns to his home

carved from emeralds
          on Mount Qaf.
                    With his white turban,

scholar's dark beard,
          and bright orange robe,
                   he looks over one shoulder

and strokes the bird's
          golden tail feathers
                    as she flits through an azure sky

between eddies of clouds.
          Healer of the sick,
                    Builder of the first hospital,

Master of alchemy,
          astrology and magic,
                    I have prepared myself

for your prognostication
          with bathing and prayers,
                    opened the book in my blindness,

opened my heart in hope
          and placed my body,
                    my wounded body, in your hands.

Added: Thursday, July 3, 2014  /  From "Animal Magnetism" (Pearl Editions, 2011). Used with permission.
Kim Roberts
Photo by Jon Gann.

Kim Roberts is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), and five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). She co-edits the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the web exhibit DC Writers’ Homes. Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, HumanitiesDC, and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has been a writer-in-residence at 18 artist colonies. Poems of hers have been featured in the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas Project, on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day Project, and on podcasts sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at Kim's website

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