I shall transfigure…


I shall live…
where life is plane geometry….with
pyramids dimensional and
weighted…holy squared on
bedded rock…as desert reference
to orient my sanity
against a pale horizon.

I shall live…
where great Nile’s
summer floods force
papyrus gifts…impaled
to verticality through
thin siltiness…where
Egyptians draped in shadow
slice pomegranates…figs
with obsidian knives…and
stain incarnadine the
carving wood.

I shall transfigure…
to flensed bones
Ra bleached to whiteness…
burned in a marble crucible
to spare ash…collected…balance
weighed against a

Bonnie Marshall

The weighing of the heart of Hunefer by Anubis, before the Devourer Ammit: from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, 19th Dynasty, c. 1285 B.C. (British Museum, via National Geographic)

31 thoughts on “I shall transfigure…

  1. Bonnie, I love the way you wove the Egyptian funerary rites into the poem with your own sense of self. You’ve captured ancient egypt in a song and therein lies eternity. >KB

  2. Oddly, I spent a large part of this morning reading around in the Bible — First Samuel, the Book of Ruth, and for pure heavenly, healthy sexiness, the Song of Songs: I really like the tone of this!

  3. I’m so excited to have ‘discovered’ you! Your words are pure magic wrought in imagination. This poem is stunning in simplicity and yet full of mindful and mystical references. You have a rare talent here. Speaks to my core.x

  4. What strikes me most about this poem is the geometrical references throughout. I’ve never thought before about the geometry of the Egyptian world, and yet there it is, “plane” as day, in the image you begin with. Lovely to be reading your words again, Bonnie!

  5. Bonnie, I don’t know if you are aware of this but many years ago Julian Jaynes wrote a seminal book claiming that the reason Egyptian art appears two dimensional is not that they lacked the skill to show depth, but rather that they only saw things two dimensionally because human consciousness had not yet fully developed. I mention this because, as one of your commentators has already noted, your poem contains many geometric references.

      1. I lived on the desert for a few years, and needed to learn to see with “desert eyes,” for distance does play with your mind. I appreciate the insight, Malcolm.

  6. so much to discover on your blog. this piece is wonderfully imaginative, sending the reader to an exotic, magical place. do you typically write in reaction to an art work, or do you try to find one that complements your poem? in any case this one is as delicious as figs sliced with obsidian knives.

    1. Occasionally I start with a photo or painting. Breughel and Durer pop to mind. Most often not. “Two Angels Walk Into a Bar” began with Meredith’s wonderful photograph. You’re such a wonderful reader, Michael. Thank you.

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