Monday, February 15, 2016

The Scroll

The list was long

hand-written on papyrus,

painted with birds, beasts,

plants and stellar bodies, maidens of virtue

and men of  valor.

An entire collection. Valuables

that would  be recorded

in the books and passed through the gates.


But scribbled near the bottom,

a host of undesirable things

never to cross the temple's threshold:

hounds, boars, weeds, buzzards and Bedouins -- any

of  the nomadic species.

All of  their women

spun hemp  into rope for strangling victims.

All of  their men

hid flint in their belts for igniting fires..

No one was good, seen beyond

the rumor  his or her name

shadowed on parchment. The ink

was indelible, binding -- with gum

from the acacia tree, thoughts from the emperor.
This is based on the ancient "Harris Papyrus" which was a list ( issued by Egyptian King, Ramses II) to compile all the beautiful things from plants, spices, minerals, stones, beasts, birds to even people that had been collected from conquered lands. Valuables that would enrich his kingdom in diverse ways. Now this list only included the acceptable things/beings that could cross the  "temple's threshold and be recorded in the books and entered into his gardens, buildings etc. It deliberately omitted the forbidden or "foul things" like pigs, dogs, and other species. My poem turns the scroll into what is acceptable and not acceptable. It subtly makes a statement about then and even now when certain politicians, with an emperor-like attitude, decide who is worthy and unworthy of entrance into their realm. A litmus test for immigrants, refugees, foreigners etc. Thus, the poem uses to demonstrate its point, "the Bedouins and any of the nomadic species". It also conveys how these restrictions are based on rumor, profiling and prejudice... "all their women and all their men" do this and are regarded as a threat because of guilt by association




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