Monday, January 16, 2006

Sphinx, the Louvre

Some time before time
a sculptor and mage
polished pink and gray granite
into this form
caught my soul
and breathed breath into me.
Later, but still
long before this
there was sun
I was warmed dreaming
on the steps in front
of the pillars
of the temple
and in that long dream
I could see the blue Nile
shining under a brilliant sky
saw the rippling heat
shimmer up from the
distant desert floor
while behind me, priests
made offerings to
Sakhomet
Horus
Bast
on the eternal altars
I guarded.
Then an eclipse
abandonment
and slow centuries
of crumbling exile
in an empty quarter
before that vain little
self-crowned emperor
stole me away
sailed me across the ocean
at the centre of the world
in a strange wooden ship
with no sacred lotus prow
to display his power
and eventually bundled me
and much of his other swag
into this ill-lit basement
for the amusement of
the masses.
He too was eclipsed
in his own good time
and bundled
to a quiet island
and my quiet smile
never changed.
Now these
heedless loud children
urged by
their heedless loud parents,
after a bored guard
leaves the gallery
to go to the washroom,
climb across my broken paws
for the purpose of taking
inferior souvenir snapshots
with annoying flashes
yet I daydream still,
remembering
the minor god
that I was
that I am
that I will be
and crouch
a patient cat
shuffling its hindquarters
endlessly ready to spring
across this dimly lit cellar.

4 comments:

C said...

I wonder what the big Sphinx in Giza would say about the cesspool that surrounds it now.

Seeing it for the first time recently, I could imagine it as it was, in all of its painted and polished splendor when everything around it was lush and green and the enlightened people worshiped it and their environment.

Now - it lies on the edge of a bustling desert slum, and is surrounded by filth, tourists and the petty criminals that stalk them.

If there is a hell for ancient monuments...it is there...

coyote said...

Hi, Christa. Yes. I suppose that on the whole, Napoleon did this smaller one in the Louvre a favour.... although I also suppose the Egyptian antiquities ministry would beg to disagree.

C said...

In talking with many Egyptians, they agree that the government sees their priceless treasures as a money-maker...nothing more. My experience there was extremely disappointing, and I felt embarrassed at the filthy circus that Egyptian treasures have become, and not only in Giza, but Cairo as well. There is no pride there. It was very, very sad.

I think that in other places in Egypt the monuments are better kept, but they are still treated as a tourist trap.

coyote said...

A problem with cultural tourism, world wide, I think. Some heritage sites were never meant to become mass-marketed tourist destinations ....