pharaoh's soldier
by
Paul Roche
2013


Copyright © 2013 Paul Roche
Page last modified 17 Jun 2013, 10:08-0400

a long march this, the longest in weeks
stifling sands and food no better than we fed the Jews
and ours the great Army of Egypt
at home Magditha lays out the meats and fruits
and the children play by the blessed Nile...
and me hunting wretches I thought Pharaoh had let go?

ahead the slaves (are they even armed?) are pinned between land and sea, poor souls, but for Gods' sake let's get this over with and get home...

I remember walking on the beach, this beach, Magditha and me
the seabirds barking our love and a thousand years and a hundred children

i hope our pay comes this week, they said it would
in time to refresh the grains
and new wine from Capernum, and Magditha's warm smile,
blunt the hours, the days away...
I am a warrior as my ancestors were warriors and my sons...
I will never fish or plant the ground!
or be thrall to the flooding of the Nile

Cries of fear echo across the strand - not theirs, ours...
the sea is low, almost dry - they have slipped the trap
have escaped and are walking across!

how do we mere men, Egyptians, Jews, estimate the games of the Gods?

surely we will not follow - with the quicksand and wind-tides;
I know this sea; no one of us wants to - but who has choices?
Pharaoh hates the frog tricks and locusts of their God and his traitor prince, and so they must die

and it is of my little home in town, Magditha, and the children I am dreaming,
and the small slip of river where i bathe in the morning - (bright Aten melting the river haze) - when the sea walls roar in upon us and take us down -

I cry out even to their God as I drown