A prologue to an epic.
In lands alit by th’Aten’s flame,
Osirid marsh, ‘breast barren red,
bears lush papyrus banks awash
in life by th’river bled
upon ‘n o’er her floodplain fields –
their soil suffused; the wet-sand womb
gestates the formless seed, absorbed
‘mongst rushsome reeds, securely moored
within the bed; subsumed.
Ma’at, from Issfet’s void, is birthed.
The Sun Disk crowns the waking earth.
Two lands long joined ‘neath falcon’s flight
between horizons – dusk ‘n dawn –
of eastern climb, western descent,
and Nut’s night-curtain drawn:
the Mansion Of The Soul of Ptah!
Iteru paints her deltas dark
with riches vast, whilst valleys ring
her riv’ring course, ‘long which she brings
her primordial spark
to gift a jewel unto the world.
Along the river, ran a girl.
On bount’yus banks in th’Upper Realm,
south of Narmeric Abydos,
the City of the Sceptre sings
its gold ‘n grand chorus!
Since th’Foremost of Noble Ladies –
Hat-Shep-Sut – had Wa-Set flourished
to peaks of tow’ring monuments,
voyages to the shores of Punt,
and conquest accomplished!
Amen-Hotep upon the throne;
the girl stood ‘mongst the reeds, alone.
Her back was t’ward the colossal
pylons, pillars, ‘n obelisks
of Amun-Ra’s greatest temple –
Most Select Of Places!
Her feet? Planted within the silt.
Her legs, scaffolded either side
by columns of papyrus, shone
their sun-soaked brown. Her kilt, upon
her hips, was linen-white.
Her belly rose ‘n fell. At rest,
her arms crossed o’er her naked chest.
Thus was the girl-child. ‘Midst the dawn’s
chill, she watched the night-time passing
westward as she felt the tide of
heat fall on her bare skin.
It broke in ‘lluminating throes
‘n crashed against the city’s stone
to flood the sphinx-lined alley through
shrines, courtyards, paths, ‘n homes –
on o’er ‘n t’ward the Nile ‘n b’yond,
in time to watch the past abscond.
She turned about. Her feet held firm.
Her hands moved to her bony hips.
Adorned with turquoise symmetry,
a band slid down her wrist
to settle half-way up her palm,
its lapis-laden metal cold
against her thumb. A tambourine
of beads in carnelian, green,
amber, ox-blood, ‘n gold
swayed – jingle-jangling – in the breeze
that moved th’woven papyrus reed.
Tucked well behind her right-side ear
in spiralled strands, her braid of youth
spilled deep-brown locks through th’golden clasp –
an unwritten cartouche
that held the hair at origin –
to cascade from her shaven head.
She saw, in sun-backed silhouette,
a cobra rearing – now erect;
its uraeic-hood spread.
Within the Aten’s haze, it merged
with fire that lit ‘n fed ‘n purged.
rent – the voice ranged vicious, for to
find those little ears adorned with
fashion foreign ‘n new.
As sure as was the god-king’s rule,
her moth’ring wet-nurse, whom she’d known
for seven years thus far – Her whole
life’s song! – in each ‘n ev’ry role
(it seemed) as she had grown,
would know she’d snuck back in to fake
that she’d just now begun to wake…
Image credit – RUGGERO VANNI/GETTY IMAGES