blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Mummy on the Doorstep

Sometimes they deliver only a shrunken body, yellow and leathery as a dog toy. The translators prop her in your doorway, ring the doorbell, then hide behind her, holding their breath. When you open the door, expecting a package . . . well, there she is—blink-blink—eyeless visitor from another time and place. They've gussied her up, tied a red silk ribbon around her little bald head.

From the shape of the lovingly-wrapped linen, you detect the former beauty of her flesh. But her mind, extracted by hook, must be sleeping in a funerary jar elsewhere. Her falsetto chatter is as unintelligible as scarabs scratching sand. What, WHAT? Here and there words and images glitter like the gold snakes in her earlobes. But her language only sparkles at random. Your questions cannot be heard by those puckered apricot ears.

The mummy shuffles her parchment feet on the welcome mat. OH! Come in, come in. The translators crouch at her calves, panting, pushing her legs—first one, then the other—forcing her forward, into the foyer. As you recoil, she staggers a few steps on her own, stiff as an ironing board. They give her an extra shove, and she bounces into your arms. Perplexed but polite, you accept their gift. (Is she theirs to give? Or museum loot?) You lift her over your head, weightless as a piñata, rattling like a gourd—and shake her, listening to the dried seeds talk.  

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