A Pharaoh, Perhaps
I’m an Egyptian man,
balanced on a camel-skin stool.
Sala’am alaikum! Alaikum Sala’am--
loud, clattering gossip leaps
through sheesha haze, glassy-eyed men
build character in a filthy Luxor café.
I was a tourist, climbing
five-thousand year-old tombs:
pharaohs with a vision of afterlife.
They’re wandering now—everyone
knows exhumed mummies serve eternity
on the Antiquities & Tourism Police.
If you sit
quietly enough, order
a drink or two—hot tea, cold Stella--
the language you can’t speak
sifts through your clothes, like
Ozymandias’ fine desert dust.
in the sounds, the bustle:
play tourist, try not to notice
when Mohammed charges double
for plain Egyptian tea and the urchins
deftly dance their hustle.
as the sun sinks in the west.
The muezzin calls. The men tell me
not to speak of the pharaohs.