Ibis. He loved the word,
the bird even more.
Summer lay on the river,
he stood on the shore.
Now a master carver,
he thought he could do justice
to the ibis he watched,
pecking at the water,
and when finished,
he would give his wooden sculpture
to the one he thought
more fair than Pharaoh’s daughter.

So alone at his bench,
he worked on the wood,
first on the neck and wings
till the ibis looked good.
The one he loved,
he saw walk from her shelter.
Though he was a master carver,
she told him, to choose him
would not please her father
nor would the builder of the pyramid.
Would not allow her to be a dancer,
to show her love for Isis.
Would prefer her to be a priestess,
to keep her treasure hid.
No, she could not take his carving,
but when she saw the ibis on the water,
she would remember what he told her,
that she was more fair than Pharaoh’s daughter.

“Then if it were not for your father,”
he asked her, “you would accept my ibis,
and you would be mine?”
“Look at the stars,” she said.
“In multitudes they shine.
Only if we sailed among them
could we drink our wedding wine.”

“If men can build a boat
to sail on the Nile,” he said,
“I could carve one to lift us
from the land and take us to the sky.”
“You make me smile,” she said.
“For I know you would try.
Only Ra can travel through the stars.
No. Look. My father comes.
The gods go with you. This is goodbye.”

So he listened to the wind,
rustling through the reeds by the river.
His ibis carving,
he showed to the water,
knowing now he could never
give it to her,
the one who was more fair than Pharaoh’s daughter.
Under the moon, he stayed for a while,
thinking he may carve a boat,
to sail to lands beyond the Nile.


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