Kingston, Ontario

Old Cairo

After we heard the Sufi chanting to Allah
in the soaring mosque, we joined in.
Somehow here, religions seem to blend,
lose their edges, oppositions.
After that, we went to Old Cairo, through
the ancient door, into a tangle of tiny
winding streets, past small churches
to the ancient synagogue where Pharoah’s
daughter found Moses in his basket.
(The Nile was higher then). The baby left
behind the synagogue, right near the mikveh.
Why had Pharoah’s daughter come to bathe just then?
Was she instructed in a dream?

I walk in unseen footsteps of those ancient stories,
Imagine long ago ancestors, nameless to me,
living in small houses, buying live chickens,
rounds of bread, bringing up their dark-eyed children.
The men, studying ancient texts, reading
Hermes Trismegistus in Egyptian, learning hieroglyphs,
Puzzling out mysteries of dark and light,
keeping the feasts, never thinking how far distant
descendents would stray from their faith-
would prefer trees, wind, goddesses to their one Lord.
I feel their presence, feel the traces of their beings
holding me here. I might have come to Egypt just for
these ancestors, just to walk these winding
crooked streets.

Elizabeth Greene. My new book of poems is The Iron Shoes.


One response to “Kingston, Ontario

  1. Ah, thank you for bringing me back to Ancient Egypt! Elizabeth I think you’d like my sound opera, Helwa!, up on!
    Here’s to presences, unfolding!

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