Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Homeric Greek by Denise Low

A (Shaman’s)

Idmon grasps his fennel staff. He nears
Erectheus the Athenian king, the querent,
a man who studies prophesies like eclipses,

spirals of comet tails, red moons—
omens of chaos. Now eerie gloaming
obscures the crowd as shadow douses sun.

Idmon the seer shakes his staff, speaks:
“I give voice to the mountain spirits.
Fear not the smoldering meteors that fall.”

The king’s breath quickens. Idmon trembles,
“Here is the interpretation. The Greek Eagle
killed the Horned Snake of India. It drowned.

“So the Hydaspes River will swallow Deriades,
prince of the Indian armies. He will die.
The river god Hydaspes will kill his own son.”

The seer falls silent in the unnatural night.
The Athenian king holds the quivering prophet
until he calms. Lightning crackles in the distance.

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