Mumab: The Mummified Man From Maryland
There once was a man from Maryland
Who lived in Baltimore.
He died, alas, of a heart attack
In nineteen ninety-four.
Before he died he had left word
That for the common weal
His body should go to scientists
Its secrets to reveal.
It went to the local medical school
At Maryland U.C.
It would be just the thing they said
For someone’s Ph.D.
Bob Brier was the lucky man
Whose project seemed to suit.
He was an Egyptologist
He was into mummification, too,
And this was his idea
To make an all-American mummy,
The first for many a year.
The Dean gave him the go-ahead
And let him pick his team.
Before you could say ‘Jack Robinson’
Bob Brier was going full steam.
You’d never believe how much you need
To make an American mummy—
There’s animal-headed Canopic jars
For lungs, and liver, and tummy,
An embalming table with lions’ feet,
Ushabtis by the score,
Obsidian tools to scour the corpse,
And amulets galore.
They went to Egypt for natron salts
To dry out the flesh of the dead
There, too, they bought a roll of cloth
Of finest linen made.
One day in May, when all was set,
Bob donned his Anubis mask
And they all went along to the Ibu Tent:
To begin their grisly task.
They extracted the brains with a pointed hook
Through a hole at the top of the nose
Then leaving the heart, they scooped out the
An organ for each of the jars.
They filled up the spaces with natron and stuff
To dry out his tissues and skin
And when in the end all the moisture was gone
They wrapped him in finest linen.
In ancient Egypt mummies took
Seventy days to do
This one was done in half the time
Thanks to the Yanks’ know-how.
Of course they had missed out lots of the spells
And prayers, and religious bits
Preparing the soul for the afterlife—
They thought such stuff the pits.
This mummified corpse was a great success,
The first for two millennia,
And just as good as Egypt’s best,
What a triumph for America.
The mummy was given the name of Mumab
And placed in a golden casket
But whether it liked it or whether not,
Nobody thought to ask it.
Now it lies in a hall of the medical school
Of Maryland U.C.
Where it’s visited by dignitaries
Of the university.
And if at night you go to the school
And wander its corridors
You may hear a sort of scratching noise
And seek in vain the source.
It’s the Ka of poor old Mumab
As hungry as a horse
For they forgot to leave him offerings
Being Americans, of course.
So now for all eternity
His Ka must seek the crumbs
Dropped by careless sophomores
From crumbly cakes, and buns.