Seeking Even the Smallest of Signs
By Susan Barba
First they pulled from the burning a miracle, then a mistake.
The Lord will lift them the priest with the grief
in his eyes cried. Lord, what blue eyes bound there,
what hurling, diving, shining, burning —
reason surfaces and sinks, sinks and surfaces.
Dawn without sunrise. Gray. Purple.
Her Majesty in mourning. Her Majesty the warring. In the double
house of life all this was repeating itself,
Naneferkaptah had already himself lived Setne’s story.
When the rains began the teams with two-by-fours
found the going treacherous as those in the desert found
the food wretched. They prayed to the golden serpent on the staff
to save them. And the serpent stretched itself
and became a hymn, white-throated, rising to give
itself up for the good of the chosen ones.
Mother I remember the buttons on your dressing gown.
So blue and beady-eyed and true, when did I begin
To fear them. The world now
not so round with us. Velocity
threatening to meet, to marry
density at every corner
Who can see
the writing on our foreheads almost wet still
Who can see
algae bloom beneath the board
smoke from the sky
Tell me if that is a hand
if it is human what