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Winged Scarab, 664-332 BC (Late Period). The Met


Originally published in Salt Hill Journal, February 2020


Set lies nice beneath Osiris like a sleeping bag.

Set reviews his pose, his brother’s pose:

Set in joy picks up the facts and puts them down

and picks them up again.


Set slays Osiris and extends him

To every corner of the state.

Osiris! Like a cupboard potato

Stretching eyes, distant from itself.


Water falls on Set’s head and expands like ink.

Set also opens across the water.

Water and Set like lips of a single blossom spread

Around and inside one another. Osiris sinks like a popsicle

And Osiris gets far like a tree.


Set’s careful son goes and gets Osiris

From every grave and packs him tightly in a well-made cloth.

Now he is alive again! Now it is springtime.


“I thought it was mice in the grass, but it was rainfall.”

Set wakes in the night. “I thought that the noises were mice in the grass –

It was rainfall.” Set listens glad to the storm’s growth,

Its widening and kinghood.


Set and Osiris walk in the hills.

Hummingbirds in beauty run up to the lantana.


An ox comes from its pen

And steps white in the silver sage.

It turns its great cab-head.

Its moves go from its complete body. It becomes

As a color becomes,

A color standing in a field.


Set reversing his pockets,

Donating all he has.


The last of the light on the horses’ fence.

Here comes the height of summer.

A yellow rock shows from the hill

When airs press the lavender past.


Osiris in the fountain grass.

Osiris is the color of a pine. Osiris is the color of a deck.

Wet mud rises up Osiris and he is either

A mystery color inside the mud

or the color of the mud as Set sees it from outside.


A lizard shakes dust off its head.

The lizard had dust on its head. It shakes it off.


The ship rocks on the shady water.

Osiris rides the boat like a pony.

His lap is full of Set’s bouquet, heavy as a purse.

Set at the prow sings to himself: “Set, unfolding

And going forth. Set unfolding, and Set going forth.”


Light swings from the white-leaf lupine,

And like sun on the face of a watch

Goes up the walls.