December 1st, 2010


Another Egypt

The sullen crowd watched, murmured. Persian troops
marched stone-faced into Thebes. They dragged in chains
some few priests they had spared for later pains
when on the field they burned the rest, in groups

as servants of the Lie. They wanted gold
to pay hired cavalry, and so they flayed
Ra's priest, then asked the rest, and one betrayed
his trust. The others spat at him. He told

how Pharoah's treasury in many carts
was gone into the desert to the place
where storm winds hummed through a gigantic face
and led them there. He used his magic arts

to bring sandstorms that cut them to the bone.
No Persians came back. He returned alone.

(no subject)


It took him years, and would have needed more.
He preached his god and sat upon his throne.
He sometimes feared that he believed alone.
His queen perhaps, for love, chose to ignore

priests' whispers, would be true beyond his death.
How many others? He looked round his court
saw some who might be true, or would stay bought
with favour or with fear. And yet God's breath

was all around them, and they would not see
that light and heat were all of the Divine
we need – the sun both God and his clear sign.
Priests might erase his name and heresy

but could not scrub out that great staring eye
his sermon and his witness in the sky.