Dear Ardath Bey

By Ruth Foley

To be forced awake after sleep, alone, your lover

still dead, your mouth full of dust, your chest

arid. What did you take with you into the afterlife?

 

What pottery and stone? There is nothing here to hold

your quieted heart, stopped within your chest

as they wrapped you, still alive, because you dared

 

to search for her. And what returned with you? Your heart

is here, if not contained. Your bitumen skin beneath

the husk. Do you remember her salted shoulder

 

against your mouth? If she had waited for you,

stood by Anubis as he watched from the mountain,

would you have returned? The weight your heart

 

held—did it measure against Ma’at? Rest, love.

Bones and dust lie in a heap at our feet. Outside,

the jackal paces, patient. I will help you wait.

___

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her recent work is appearing or forthcoming in Adanna, The Bellingham Review, Yemassee, and Weave, among others. She also serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.


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