Ode to the Goddess Selket

(14-30 March 1994) after John Keats

Your closely woven gown reveals your small fine shape the slope of your shoulders, the curves of your breasts the indentation of your navel only your eyes and eyebrows are painted black everything else is gold, your gown and shawl, your skin, your hair, the scorpion on your head even the whites of your eyes are gold You must have been standing close for you have turned your head holding out your arms from your shawl like wings, your palms turned out to shield the canopic jars protecting the inner organs of Tutankhamun For ever vigilant, but for what? What inner organs? What arrests your look? What do you protect within your gentle reach? King Tut and all his riches are exposed the grave is robbed, the lungs the stomach the liver are gone, and your calm look tells no secret and reveals no sin, as though you haven’t realized you’re unable to provide what he needs when he returns as though you still consider safe whatever you imagine within the span of your arms no matter how threatened, or private no matter what we say or think you are holding out your slender arms just as you were, ready for the next millennium