Atlantis and Egypt (cont.)
Two Poem Cycles by Linda Pearce
The Egypt Poems (cont.)
By Linda Pearce
There is a dry wind blowing through my soul
a gusty wind, from the south of my heart,
with sand and grit that brings tears to my eyes.
It is this same wind that carried you away,
My Lord, tumbling over your own death
in your eagerness to be free.
The priests have made a ceremony of my heartbreak;
with holy gestures they have wrapped you up
in linen, with oils and spices and perfumes
they have placed the organs of my own reflection
into your canopic jars, and sealed me in.
I will no longer eat, because you cannot eat.
I will not rest because you sleep too long.
In my sleepless hours I contemplate marking the astrolabe
as though your new location could be fixed:
somewhere in those stars there is the star you have become,
but which it is, my burning will not tell.
In place of mummification I would have wished for
some more appropriate pyrotechnology
some blast furnace opportunity which would cremate
the pieces of your soul right here on earth
where I could catch the cinders, flying, in my net of grief
like the thousand birds that flutter in my mind.
Or else I wish they had embalmed me too.
My imagination takes me on your journey:
you will encounter Fear, My Lord, waiting
there by the roadside with his flail
just where the canyon narrows;
you may sing him your carnation melody
so that he may stand aside, and so
your heart remain as light as air.
Do not let your heart grow heavy with remembrance
lest the feather win the scales; I would
that you lose even your remembrance of me
so your heart remain as light as air.
In the spaces between my grief I indulge myself
in an observation of its aftereffects
and have come to wonder if perhaps
our souls are the wrong shape for this life;
perhaps we are not round enough, or
we have too many edges, or too few;
perhaps the enneagram, the template,
is in perpetual motion around some other planet.
Perhaps, My Lord, some cosmic mistake
cast us up together on this shore,
and tears us now apart. I cannot tell.
They are blowing the horns now, the priests,
incanting the magical rendition of your future life.
I have behaved badly;
they will no longer let me see your face
before they mask the marble of your brow
with the representation of your godhood,
all in gold.
I sit trembling in the anteroom.
I’m very cold, frozen by my spartan
dereliction of duty: I cannot carry your death
in your jar down the long steps to your tomb.
I know, I know not how,
they will not let you rest in peace
for men will come in times to come
and tumble down your grave
however grave we are the day it’s sealed.
I was your mathematical plaything, My Lord,
counting on you for everything
but now my griefs, my tears, are numberless;
day by day I am counting backwards down to nothing
where I shall remain. I cannot calculate your loss.
This morning I looked into my polished mirror
and was astonished to find no blood on myself;
my face and hands were clean, and yet
so freely have I bled I looked behind me
for the pool of red.
I fell at last through some reluctant sleep
into a dream where I saw you standing, alone,
sowing the seed of the sphinx into a fertile field.
You turned to look at me, your fingers
scattering the last of it. Then suddenly,
you sank into the earth,
as I screamed,
as tiny heads were breaking through the dirt.
I have behaved badly, like some classless freedomite,
making wild accusations and tearing at your breast
looking for your pulse, frantic, graceless.
I have disgraced my station, and for this excuse
I can only say
they have drawn from your body everything
that made it dear to me - your self, your brain, your life.
If I were worthy I could see your ba ascending
purified and free, but instead I tremble
for the journey that you take.
I will not follow you, My Lord, for when I die
my heavy heart will tell against me on the scales.
I shall be found wanting, and sink to I know not where
from which low place I may look up
through all my endless nights and see you shining in the sky.
And I may feel, like your fingers on my skin,
the firefly touch of the distant star.
I will rise up now
and carry my heart in your jar
down the long steps to our tomb.
Fifty years we wasted on the desert floor,
lives spent on knees in supplicating haste,
used tools (caked with dust) that picked and dug.
We worked with hope, while boredom
made us rich with disappointment.
The mind wanders as it gouges in the dirt.
The drawings of the site are hardly worth
the rough papyrus that they’re sketched upon,
and in a trance the mind holds visions up
like golden masks.
The shadow of the pyramid draws lines,
takes sun from sky and glare from tired eyes.
The way we hunt for truth we’ll only find,
silent under sculpted stone,
the artefactual shards of the broken heart.