Today we read the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Fat textbooks, new and stiff, lie open
to fluorescence reflected in cinder-block eyes.
It is 7:30 a.m. Darkness loud as a stone
crackles windows frozen to minus twenty.
Dino Mendez, long legs splayed from the front row,
dreams of his lady. Tiffany pops her gum,
curls bleached hair around her index finger.
Surreptitious notes, hand-to-hand, blend boyfriends
with plagues, battles, infidels, magicians
and the dubious comfort of a sun god
who forces us to rise, cold and alone,
this January morning in the dark.
We discuss the Adoration of the Disk –
how even titles mirror society,
agricultural or high-tech. We chew
on that awhile, then pick out lines we like:
chicks hatching on spindly legs,
a sea full of hieroglyphic fish,
birds engraved on rock.
A woman forever stamped on papyrus
stares out at Lindsay adjusting her mascara.
With adolescent languor, they dream
their own poems: a car revving power,
a coach preaching teamwork, questions
about God or where stars go when they die;
stories of grandpa in the war and their mothers
tucking them into blankets at night,
kissing their foreheads with cool lips.
adoring the dawn in a poem four thousand years old
that reddens the sky then and now,
tomorrow assigned to Dante’s Inferno
sandwiched between the Pledge of Allegiance
and morning announcements.