poem23 May 2016 08:00 am


The mummy’s mask speaks
texts from the dead,
an unknown gospel in each cheekbone
a lost play for a forehead
referenced in antiquity, but
its lines only guessed at until now.
The layers peel back;
time peels away.

A laborers’s death,
no money for fancy masks so
the family makes do,
old paper lying around, worthless pages
too worn to scrape clean.
The mourners fold and seal them
layer by layer into a mask.

Unlayered now by new techniques
deeper texts emerge:
a bill of sale, a priest’s grocery list.
A fragment of a fairy tale
at the very edge of the mask,
the ancient paper doubles back on itself,
crafting a tale of doubles and doppelgangers.
In the center, covering the eyes,
a lost night of Scheherazade—
the djinn tricked into…
not a lamp, not a book,
but a mask that travels through time,
reveals its words,
but never quite breaks free.


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