African Watercolor, Part 2
Interview with Laura Pelick
News for December
Immortalityby Vonnie Winslow Crist
Her living room:
pensive sun studies
reflection in a golden sarcophagus,
tilts his face, listens to the tick of pendulum;
ocher wall-to-wall carpet ripples
from sky-border to sky-border
like Zawyet El Amwat's sand
where her hands retrieved faience
pottery fragments that now litter
a display case at Selket's precious feet
beside an unguent bottle, oil lamp, earthen jug.
Scent of cream and blue hydrangea hangs
like a pendant
on dry breezes that rustle sheers, white
as linen wraps on brown women.
She kneels, sifts
through Egyptology books with eyes sapphire
as the Nile as it washes by Abu Simbel.
balanced by a falcon-god gilds
her gray hair lighter than the alabaster
scarab who wanders the window ledge.
Indigo waterbirds from the palace
at Tell at Amarna rise
from papyrus and lotus on her wall.
The cats have come to hunt like archaeologists
for what remains in the Land of Kings.
Tut, in full color, watches
the black scarab, wings open,
who waits on velvet
ready to spread across
a dead woman's chest and guard
her embalmed form until the morning
beyond remembered things.
She glances at grains pyramiding
in a timepiece.
Multiple moons have slivered
since last she dickered
with a shriven vendor hawking his goods
from a camel-pack on the outskirts of Cairo,
darkened since last the Sahara
pelted her burning legs,
been born since last the shade of Meydum
chilled her marrow.
She cradles a drink in reverent hands.
Her face, like a ghost,
wavers in the water.
She sees European bones and American blood,
but her ba, her ka, and shadow
belong to Egypt.
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