Ka, the winged self shape flies free
of tombs, slips out of pyramidal
masses, Pharos spirit roams the land
dust like at the deserts edge.
I thought I knew deserts
growing up in towns wrested from one
until I saw this one.
This Egypt, the mass of it
outside the green snake
of the verdant flowing Nile.
Seeing it from the deck
of a small cruise boat,
Seeing its white and dusty expanse
cliffed, dark edged and infinite,
beyond the temples and tombs
beyond the green cultivated river banks,
the rush roofed huts, fellahin tending crops,
oxen walking forever in circles
pumping water for the fields.
Lotus columns hold the heavens
above temple Hieroglyphics
(Kom Ombo, Karnak, Thebes, the Valley of Kings)
showing the after life of great ones,
all embalmed, protected from degeneration.
A thousand generations of wooden dead
clutter the margins of the desert.
Great Nuit, star clad night, mated with earthy Geb,
begot Isis and Osiris, Horus, Nepthsus, good, evil, and Seth
murders Osiris, hides his body. Isis
sister wife roams the world to find him
to encase his Ka within her, resurrect him.
Nuit encloses all, and is the pathway of Ra.
We feel the primordial weight of the great Sphinx
the Ka of Kings here in areal dust.
Timeless land, the rivers rhythm,
death defines living beliefs;
The Ka, spirit from the river,
the Ruh, from the desert,
the Soul an escape from pain and suffering.
So many ways of being self,
mine, enbodied, is transcendent
but it ends with my death.
The Nile and desert vibrate,
generate beliefs; all deny death,
the Sun God Re, immortal,
the infinite life of Ka,
the Essens teaching Christ, the heaven of Christians,
the cold sleep of the Ruh.
the devout dead Mussulman waiting for judgement day.
A land of the sleeping; a desert,
this crowded land.
The arabic script shoves Greek letters aside
flowing like river waves from the right
across papyrus sheets, across walls
like tsunamis wiping little images away,
the great paintings are hidden or painted over
the granite gods noses are broken
this past was forgotten
in a rush to impose the ineffable One; Allah.
But it took a thousand years,
by the Ottomans and their Mamalukes.
to push the agenda onto the Copts,
the jews and Christians at Alexandria,
We lightly forget the anguished centuries between
the crash of Rome, the Christian Coptic era,
the slow crusade of the Muhammadans.
How fast old millennia are erased,
plundered and forgotten
Ka dissolves, hides its nature
in Moslem Ruh, all egos in the One
this crowded land, bread basket of Rome
flowering from the flow of the spring flood.
Ka is in the hash laden air of the Fishwel Café
in the alleys, the souks of gold, leather, spices
wikala of al Ghuri, caravanserai
of Mameluks, grand Muftis
and the high crest of minarets above old Cairo.
We are in the remains and the new
blatantly pushes against the Gaza Pyramids
new villas, glass steel towers, English hotels.
Ka is in the people now
all are Pharos, the land has changed,
dammed, the Nile changes.
Sleep, crumbling Ramses,
a spring flood
renews the land.
Kent Bowker 3/21/2011