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Eternity in Egypt
Diana Anhalt


Egyptian aristocrats crammed the essentials into tombs:
henna, kohl, diadems, thrones, favorite cats, an ibis perhaps,
      robes, rings, grain, registries.

Space exhausted, they chiseled and painted afterthoughts
      onto walls:
Line after line of subjects bear fish, ducks, board games,
game, grapes, round loaves,
sheaves of wheat, wine vessels, sea vessels, friends, coffers;
      chairs, musical instruments,
surgical instruments, spices, horses, sheep, shoes—
provisions for afterlife.
(Please, God.)

I, who have trouble packing for a weekend—
How would I stockpile for eternity?
(We’re speaking forevers here.)

Would I want wine with every meal? Water, tea, beer, cocoa?
If cocoa, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg, milk, sugar,
a china cup and saucer, spoon, linen napkins
      embroidered with cherries.
(There might be guests.)

I suppose I could forgo the ibis, the cats, the throne
but how many pairs of shoes do I pack?
How do I choose?

(No afterlife weather reports in our paper.)
Slippers, sneakers, hiking boots, riding boots, pumps,
      water fins—
Should I opt for practicality or go with gilded sandals?
And when no inch of wall space remains—What then?
Are there ditto marks the gods will understand?
A celestial etcetera tagged on to the end?

Tell me: Is it worth the aggravation?
(No one seems to know.)

This poem first appeared in Buckle & (1999) and Nuesta Voz (2004).
Used here with the author’s permission.

Diana Anhalt was born in New York, but lived in Mexico for many years before moving to Atlanta, Georgia to be closer to family. A former high school teacher, editor, and civic leader, she is the author of A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1947-1965 (Archer Books), five chapbooks, and numerous essays, short stories, and book reviews in both English and Spanish.





Post New Comment:
How many pairs of panties does one pack for eternity?!?!?
Posted 02/17/2011 01:40 PM
Delightful wit--and certainly relevant to our consumer society!
Posted 02/17/2011 12:15 PM
Diane, I like the twists and connections and humor in your poem. Thanks for sharing Anita Wender
Posted 02/17/2011 10:35 AM
Susan :
Such wonderful juxtapositions: eternity/weekend; throne/shoes; wall in a great pyramid/ditto marks -- so human and so funny. I love it!
Posted 02/17/2011 10:14 AM
wendy morton:
Yes, linen napkins embroidered with cherries. All these lovely details. What shoes?
Posted 02/17/2011 10:11 AM
Just love this, Diana. It's one of those poems I wish I had written -- funny and smart.
Posted 02/17/2011 09:05 AM

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