In the Cairo Museum

By Claire Zoghb

So many towering things
in that dusty country:
pyramids, columns, obelisks
and three-story Pharaohs,
one granite leg extended
as if to crush us.

A relief, then
these seated scribes
lining the museum’s glass shelves —

small enough to fit the palm,
legs akimbo, a kind of love
in the hunched shoulders,
tiny hands poised mid-glyph,
each stylus lost to the ages.

Egyptian by birth,
monumental in his own way,
my father-in-law was silent
as any stone Ramses,
would not speak to me
for half a decade.
Yet, that May afternoon
in those airless halls,
the dynasties fell away
with the sound of his voice.
Clara, come see —
they mummified their cats.

Fouad has lived seven years
in his own tomb now.
I smooth fresh scrolls
of papyrus across
my alabaster knees,
head bowed, waiting,
my pen casting a shadow
the length of the Nile.

For more poems by Claire Zoghb check the full winter 2014 issue of Sukoon