Chantress of Amun

(Nameless, numbered mummy, “Civilization” Exhibition,Australian National Gallery)

Christ! Some brainless vandal’s branded you.
As if it’s not enough to lose your name
a clumsy, numbered desecration stains
the wrappings near your forehead, where your eyes
held Nile-side sunlight once —before the dark
stretched into endlessness. Then days were long
and brought those warm, sharp-shadowed mornings when
you chanted sacred cadences, old songs
sung down millennia. And as you passed
heads and hands touched sand — eyes watched you go,
sistra rattled, Pharaoh bowed. And then
you came to this — night, silence and this last
indignity. God surely knows that far
more dismal sins exist than taking names
(your god’s or mine) in vain — one festers here,
committed when some pagan alien traced
that blackened blasphemy across your face.



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