Out of Egypt

by Laurie Klein

You are a garden locked up, my sister,
my bride … —Song of Songs 4:12

Cairo’s beaded curtains swing,
alabaster and Nefertiti T-shirts
jostle a sphinx:
Our riddle
is love, like a pierced lamp—
the darkening oil,
a charred wick.
Glints from souvenir scarabs
bring to mind crickets
on hearths, their leggy vespers
grown dutiful as
filigree clock hands
inching past one another. Distance
feels like illness, curbing
the flame.
How to re-yeast the daily
flatness of bread and wine?
Let pores absorb the rustic tang,
the forgotten myrrh
of mercy and mirth,
as pepper and saffron words
rise, with new promise.
Dear you:
Here are 5 buttons of pearl, undone,
a feast of raw silk, a robe, admitting
sky. Let the spices blow through.

LAURIE KLEIN is the author of a poetry collection, Where the Sky Opens, and a chapbook, Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. Her work has recently appeared in Barrow Street, The Pedestal, San Pedro Review, Tweetspeakpoetry, and several anthologies. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Photo: “Ibn Tulun mosque, Cairo” by Neil Cummings