In life, I was never
This clean. The workings
Of my mortal flesh made me
Impure—my humanity a stain
The old gods and the new could not
Launder or bleach from the warmth of my skin.
In death—I am reduced to the beauty of bone and skin.
Organs placed in Coptic jars—my brain
Liquefied and drained through my nose.
I am glad to be rid of them all. Rid of the sweat
Beneath my arms and between my breasts, free
Of the swamp between my legs. I am relieved
To have died while my beauty still bloomed,
To have died before I became a shriveled husk
Smelling of decay. Do you see how beautiful I am
Hanging here on this wall, in this place where beauties
From the ages have been gathered? They come to admire
The brilliance of my colors, to comment on my large eyes looking
Demurely away. Do you see the spark that shines forever
In my umber eyes? My afterlife is a hungry audience, an endless
Feasting on my visage. Come to me, come closer, don’t you see how beautiful I am?
Image source: wikimedia (creative commons)
Shelly Love is the Editor in Chief of Red Bird Chapbooks and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University, St. Paul, MN. She lives in the St. Croix River Valley with her three sons Patrick, Mikah, and Calvin. Someday she hopes to complete a chapbook length manuscript dedicated to the Fayum mummy portraits, because the people captured on the wooden planks are begging for someone to give them a voice.