|Tahrir Square, Cairo, Feb 2, 2011 Yannis Behrakis/Reuters|
Bricks of mud and wattle crumble leaving dust,
sand and wind scour the marks of men from stone.
So many years the gods have watched,doing the nothing that gods do so well.
Now hands that raised the pyramids
fight hands that robbed the tombs,
and Time leaves the old gods behind,
empty in the grave.
They dream what they have always seen;
yesterday pulled across the dusty sky
to tomorrow in the sun’s chariot endlessly racing
while the people, brown and small
work the land, no more to them than clay
ushabtis that serve so their betters can live idle.
The dream is broken; still, the empty dead don’t see.
The world has bought itself new gods,
venal and hungry, with books of laws or checks
and new lists of things forbidden,or compulsory,
who care nothing for the harvest,
who prefer what the world prefers:
that men draw oil from the ground instead of grain,
sow the seeds of war and spill blood as inevitably,
as carelessly as the Nile makes mud.
Now new gods or no gods watch stones
draw living blood instead of wear dead faces
or god’s names, watch bricks
thrown and broken against bone,
and men drunk with power, armored in foreign gold
burning the future, hiding from time.
The preserver becomes the despoiler
and the land bleeds.
They watch, or they don't
but the world watches to see
if Time is the master, unavoidable,
heavy with days, come to
break those weaker than water
who pretend to be gods, and
raise those stronger than clay
who fight the long fight to be free.