Alone, I pace the creaking barge
Beset by fears I dare not speak;
Despite my quest some doubts remain—
Is truth or legend that I seek?
I squint against the setting sun
Past the papyrus in my hands;
The Theban Hills quake in the heat
While twilight cools Egyptian sands.
Dank perspiration soaks my brow
And drips upon the ancient scroll;
A white kerchief snatched from my vest
Smears hieroglyphs which stain my soul.
Oh! curse that thoughtless act of mine
Which soiled this treasure stitched in lace!
It is a keepsake of my wife
Which bears a teardrop from her face.
What future loss might I endure
Besides a birthright pledged by me?
Both friends and loved ones I have shunned
In search of things which may not be.
Before my conscience can contrive
A pardon for my reckless choice,
The waters slapping at the hull
Distract me with their crystal voice…
Were Hebrews really forced as slaves
To fashion bricks of straw and mud?
Did God send plagues on their behalf
And make this river flow with blood?
Did Pharaoh set these captives free
To wander years through desert sand?
How did this tribe of God survive
When trudging towards the promised land?
While questions scourge my littered mind,
I sense a grinding at my feet;
The barge at last has run aground
And marks my crossing as complete.
A camel bears my Christian name;
I muse the sight of such a beast
And how, with every step I take,
My mode of travel is decreased.
At break of day, the quest resumes
As we escape the blazing dawn;
My camel’s plodding echoes loud—
I listen as we travel on…
Did Hebrews really melt their gold
And hammer forth a golden calf?
When Moses saw what had been done,
Was it destroyed in righteous wrath?
Were all its ashes ground to dust
And mixed within a golden drink?
Did fragments of that calf survive?
You must admit, it makes one think…
The Valley of the Kings unfolds
Beyond the covert road of dust;
A roguish desert breeze pursues—
Our footsteps vanish with a gust.
Again, the aged papyrus speaks
And whispers of a secret room
Tucked in the shadows of a hill
Beside an excavated tomb.
With shovels drawn, we bear the task
And sift vast kingdoms through our hands;
But as the sound of clanging steel
My doubts ascend like blowing sands…
Are all the ancient rumors true
About some stolen golden dust?
Who forged a tiny Apis Bull
To try and purchase Pharaoh’s trust?
How did the scribes in Pharaoh’s court
Foretell the idol’s secret cave?
Why was it buried at his side
Yet banished from his lavish grave?
A shovel scrapes against a stone—
Is this the goal for which I seek?
My anxious fingers claw the earth
And find a door sealed in mystique.
As iron bars dislodge the slab,
A hiss of ancient air is heard;
At last I gaze upon the bull—
My fame and fortune rest assured.
But as I touch the golden prize,
It burns into my searching flesh!
A mighty wind speaks at the door
Displacing musty air with fresh…
When pride is valued over love
No treasure will fulfill your quest;
You only build upon your worst
While sacrificing all the best.
Though others may concede to share
The passions burning in your soul,
I AM your God, a jealous god,
And I alone can make you whole.
Those words engulf my wanton quest
And settle deeply in my heart;
Not willing to be burned again
I spurn the idol and depart.
I board a steamer bound for home
And contemplate my long descent;
The kerchief in my trembling hand
Pervades my thoughts with heaven’s scent.
The engines throbbing does not speak—
No doubt remains of my reward;
It hides within a cherished life
Embraced by loved ones and the LORD.
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