"Sick Child Brought into the Temple of Aesculapius," John William Waterhouse, 1877, Wikiart photo.
“Sick Child Brought into the Temple of Aesculapius,” John William Waterhouse, 1877, Wikiart.

Healing temples, laves and balms, searing
Fire, my agéd mother, Rhene, I accompany,
Maladies beyond our healing, herbs allay
Pained-weakness, yet provide not cure of
Surgery, more than wound-liking dogs,
Blades and blood, but faith in blesséd gods.
O! Mother, they have taken you away, by
Trance of poppy, incubation of medicated
Sleep, cures dreamt, slithering snakes
Upon floor, cyst blood-pulsing within
Your abdomen, writhing skin-deep.

Anxious waiting, offerings of flowers and
Figs, prayers to Apollo, I fall prostrate on
Unyielding marble floors, presence of
Preceding dozens as myself, fearful faith,
Coin and sacrifices, my life given for Rhene
To live, another year, month, or healthy
Day. Lo! Simple mountain soul, morning
Worshiping at sacred springs, cascading
Sun on clear waters, temple-medicine
Beyond her reckoning, reluctance to things
Prescribed, Asclepius’ symptom-signs.

"Mother of Sisera..." Albert J. Moore, 1861, WikiArt.
“Mother of Sisera…” Albert J. Moore, 1861, WikiArt.

Alas! Liquid spilling to stone floors, rinses
Cleansing or angst of moaning mother’s
Blood, surgeon’s blade arousing evils death-
Clutched within her womb. Votive offerings
I cast to watery well, clay-fired sculptures
Of wombs, open torsos, prayers gods may
Answer. All these without faith divine, life
Is lost. Long faces of approaching healers,
Blood upon their gowns speak of Rhene’s
Fated death. Simple soul, in Asclepius and
His daughters, mother did not believe.

For more on Asclepius and his daughters, see this link:
“Votive Visions of the Body”:


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