- 2022 Volume 17
I used to lounge on the Nile flood plain
to watch the river churn and cut the sands,
and to think how people cheered
for my glory long ago
and now there is only the same glory to cheer for.
Yes, I was great;
I saw it in the flames,
the cascades of shifting bodies in the streets,
proud of swordsmen, land-winners,
For them I was enigma,
Ramesses, the Great Ancestor, the god
who tinkered in the life-forge.
But sulking at the Nile bank, I saw rocks
moved and smoothed and shattered, simple water
ravaging the earth, and my mind sprung
up and asked the gods to let me
become water, so Ra told me,
smirking, I was a man.
Yes, I was a man, but maybe
if I climbed high enough
I would be a man emancipated
from the anchors of the world.
Yes, I was a man, but I was a man
deserving, and for years
I climbed the climb to power.
In the seventh year I summited, stumbling
in the sky-wind as gods blew
out their lungs to sound
a warning over the winds, calling
you are no god, just
on Ta Dehent. Nothing around.
No yielding soldiers, complacent
prince, palace, throne,
glory. Sand. There was sand and I wilted
into it. I took to the tomb.
Now, at night the Nile is not mine;
the red sky sees an empire
and a man in the gloom stands
with a pensive lean.
I am granite; I cannot turn;
neither of us can see the other’s eyes.
In the prelude to boundlessness,
marble does not freeze him,
though his body
mocks me. He forgets
how it is to have everything
and still for the world to spin
Art: Destruction by Jade Wilson