The Egyptian Room
Poem By Francesc Parcerisas
I sit in the Egyptian room in the museum
and hear the honeyed buzzing of the bees.
The past is with us, now: yellow and blue,
like the wheat the labourer is threshing, or that stork
that drinks from the turquoise river of the papyrus.
Once again all times seem to be one and the same:
the stone-mason with his sieve in the scorching sun,
and the slave who is humbly fanning the pharaoh
wait for me in a taxi down the street.
A flock of ducks swiftly crosses the murky sky;
at the next table the ibis snivels, drunk and tyrannical.
They say the passions can't be painted any longer
but this four-thousand-year-old fresco is a mirror.
Death will come, like that black dog on the wall,
and we'll think ourselves too young, not ripe enough,
or we'll lament our having to fall asleep and leave behind
so many moments' scant and fleeting joy, all lost.
But look at the boat, gliding forever under the blazing sun.
Translated by Anna Crowe