A Poet Meets The Lost Queen of Egypt

Hatshepsut. Have a seat. Take
a load off your browned linen. It’s important
you know we share an interest. I mean,
I know you’re Egyptian and I’m Polish.
I know you’re dead and I’m not.
But we’re women, though
you’ve been discovered
and I haven’t.

You stole the throne
from your stepson, right?
Dressed like a man and cried
“Pharaoh! Pharaoh!” and your power
stretched across Egypt, right?
Maybe if I had a stepson or lived in Egypt,
maybe if nothing went wrong
I’d have my own canopic jars
and my organs would flail
the angry words of my end.
Maybe not.
The point is, Your Highness—
it’s Your Highness, right? Or Your Honor,
or something more exalted like
Sweet Daughter Who Art King—
the point is I can’t have men
watching my womb so close.

You had a great womb, I hear,
and mine hasn’t done too bad, but it’s
stone-filled now and unpeopled.
So anyway, you took the throne as a man,
wore a beard and everything.
Do you think I could have a house of my own,
my own strong arms and chest, live deep
in the jungle disrobed every day?
Do you think it’s possible without the beard?
You must have felt like
your own jungle all the time.