Gold is the body of the gods
Daughter of the Cynical Crocodile,
a woman taken from water.
A strange place, not
the red granite quarries of Aswan
or the pure white limestone of Terofu.
Here, beyond swamp, past papyrus
in the desert between the Nile and the Red Sea,
the high desert death sentence of Nubia
whose walls, waterless moats of rock
and sand, hold quartz veined with gold.
The scorched mountains
don’t give up
their rare yellow without chiseled mine shafts,
without deep children carrying gangue and gold
to the surface like old men leathered in grit.
Dressed in ankle chains,
I turn hand mills in my stone hut,
grind quartz to dust,
wash it down the slope of sluice
to catch the heavy dazzle.
Pestling sun, crushing stars
for the pharaoh’s war
against mortality. My labor
for his sarcophagal mask,
my death for his art.