Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I've been working pretty hard, getting ready for school, making steady progress on Blackboard conversion (from one software platform to another, rather like working out of one 20-room mansion for a long time and then suddenly moving all the furniture to a different 20-room mansion -- and one with a different floor plan). But most of this week has been uphill, very slow progress. Until today. I was leaving school in the late afternoon and ran into a student from last year. She had been checking the blog and looking at pictures. Her enthusiasm was contagious, especially since I've been so busy with school that I haven't had a chance to work with pictures or ideas or much of anything other than school. So, Savonarola awaits!

And it's one of those balmy Fall afternoons, temperature about 74 degrees, sunny and deep blue sky, with the leaves turning to that sharp yellow color that almost hurts your eyes to look at. The flowers everywhere are pushing out that last bit of color, as if there were no more chances to blossom in the winter that comes.

So I want to post the poem I wrote in Egypt, and even though I didn't write too many poems, a lot of other work went on. And I'm thinking today that much is possible. Maybe I'm thinking that because I haven't read the daily news yet.

On Visiting Giza

I have stood on the banks of the Nile seeking wisdom,
stared into the eyes of the Sphinx,
wandered between the tumbled small pyramids
of the three queens, and watched the clouds
change the colors of the pyramids of Cheops,
Khafre, and Menkaure.

All they hoped for was the divine sleep
that closed their eyes and kept their souls alive,
each gold-framed jewel, each sarcophogus,
each mural painting, each ritual prayer,
a great preparation.
The ka-soul now wanders lost
without its body, those mummified remains
carted off to any western musuem,
a wordless song of pain.

All tried to buy insurance -- Cheops
with at least four solar boats to ferry
his ka-soul to the next life; Tut with three sarcophogi
to protect his mummified remains,
the innermost one of solid gold.
Oh, how the pyramids at Giza cry out
for respect, the most solemn prayers
warning intruders away,
their size a competition, each pyramid
larger than the last,
their size saying, pick me, pick me.
The grave robbers came almost before the painted seals were dry,
almost before the closing funeral prayers were complete,
and before the queen's tears were dry.

Tourists wander this large complex,
ready with cameras for the Sphinx,
tempted by postcards, table-sized pyramids,
plastic busts of Neferteri or Alexander the Great.
They stand in line to ride the Bedouin camels,
gaily decorated with green, red, and yellow
yarn-twisted tapestries.
More tourist buses pull up with a flurry of dust,
all dwarfed by what we have come to see
-- the pyramids.

I sit on a giant block from Khafre's temple,
the causeway still flat, reaches down to the Sphinx.
The clouds change overhead.
Even my tears dry in the wind.


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