From the Junior Embalmer 

You will read this in five thousand years
when you unwind the fine linen strips
and find the papyrus I will secrete
with gold and gems as I bind him.

He thought himself important; a god,
to be washed with palm wine
then brought, by them, to this tent.
Now I live with his stench;
so corrosive it blackens silver.

It’s me that reaches through his side
sliced with a black obsidian knife
by the priest who graced us just for this.
It’s me, who draws out his stomach,
lungs, liver, intestines places them
with spices and magic into stone jars
carved with heads of the four sons of Horus.

For fifteen days I’ve suffered this doleful air.
He is now packed and covered with natron,
natron that burns, sears my eyes.
Forty days I will sit and watch as he drips
from the slanted table and in black ink
I will write to you as the stink fades.

For fifteen days I will bind his toes,
his fingers; plug his ears and nose with wax,
wrap him with linen and resin,

hiding treasure and this letter in its folds.
With my artistry concealed, he’ll go into
the sarcophagus, the tomb, and wait.

He thinks he’ll be hidden for ever.
Thinks his flesh, dried with natron,
fragrant with resins, will last
but you’ll find him, examine his entrails,
unwrap him, discover the gold, my letter.

His soul may have been weighed,
he may be again alive somewhere;
that is his affair not mine.
I want you to know how it was,
I want you to know what I’ve done.
In this way I will live for ever.

© Anthony Fisher September 2009

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