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Atlantis and Egypt (cont.)
Two Poem Cycles by Linda Pearce

The Egypt Poems
By Linda Pearce

THE INVITATION

Egypt takes her place beside the reeds,
gathers her skirts, dips toe in Nile,
then turns to watch the sky and sand.
She sees the Trojan sphinx
(which harbors God Knows What),
sees pillars in place of trees,
sees the dunes advance
in a classic symphony of movement,
follows the punctuation lines
up the pure clean edges of the pyramids.
On the floodplain, in season,
she washes herself slowly, dreamily,
then turns inland and cleans her teeth
with the radical floss paper of the sandstorm.
At last, spellbound by the invitation,
she crosses to the oasis and kneels by the spring,
murmurs something no-one understands,
writes it in a language no-one reads.
There’s some exclamatory principle behind it all:
she’s so extreme! Her magic is a kind of arid voodoo,
paralyzing those who seek her out,
bending them to some will not their own.
Her mummies are all long in the tooth -
even after death they’ve had their day;
could they have anything left to say?
They’re bereft of what narrative force they had,
yet their curatorial impact seems intact.
In a hot dry space, year by year,
the archaeologists are scraping flesh from bone.
One moves across the crawfish sands,
and raising the tent flap
takes his pen and fills his paper
with the acronyms of the academic desert,
employing the stepped up ideology of the transformer
which takes knowledge and changes it to dogma.
Yet Egypt herself operates in a field of endeavor
of which we are entirely ignorant,
exercising always the options of the Oracle:
it is only we who trip over the roots of the decision tree.
So this is how she is. It’s as though
the aridity of her surroundings
is significant in the context of her mystery,
and yet why should this be so?
Egypt lies in the desert on her back,
palms up, her throat is dry as dust;
all her knowledge is drifting down to the delta
year by year, endlessly
fertilizing the subsoil of our curiosity.

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