Sometimes ancient Egypt
crushes me, three millennia
of stone, gold, and painted wood.
This morning the rain smells
like the Nile. The Nile in flood,
before the Aswan Dam ruined
the natural flood cycle behind
five thousand years of farming.
I’m talking of trivial things:
mummies and dog-faced statues,
stone sepulchers and bronze tools,
the earliest forms of glass.
The annual flood rendered works
of culture insignificant,
reclaiming by re-silting the land.
I could stand some private re-silting,
although the mess in the kitchen
would dismay my family. Blue
breaks over the desert, a deep blue
that threatens to drown millions
in glare so brazen it topples
anyone unprepared. But here
the winter rain snuffs ambitions,
and the new year promises to dry
our tears and replace them with stones,
gemstones of blue and green.
I didn’t dream about Egypt.
I don’t have to. Its deadweight
has dragged along behind me
all of my life, and the prayers
rendered to leathery useless gods
have stuck in my throat and stopped me
from swallowing larger doctrines
that with their larger instincts
would have freed me to walk in rain
without getting my carcass wet.