Antjau, c. 715–525 B.C.E.

The glass sarcophagus in the Royal
Ontario Museum shrouds your remains
for eternity, toenails faithfully sprouting
like dwarf irises from palm wine and linens.

You hang around the body, somewhere
near the black-hole eye sockets,
head turned up and to the left.
From every point of view as I ring
around the mummy case, you evade me.
Split in two lengthwise, the top half suspends
over you like a cumulus cloud.
You whisper for a downpour.

Every schoolchild is taken with you.
Some cross themselves, prayers limp
on their lips. Some gasp and turn
to amulets and heart scarabs
and posted placards because it is easier
to read about a thing than make eye
contact with it. Some, like me, stare
shamelessly, wanting to take away more
than the science of natron and resin,
to offer more than my shadow.

First published in Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry & Prose (Spring 2006).

Read "Hard Love."

Read "In Search of an Ordinary God."

Read "The Majestic."