Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Nile (poem)


Osiris - (In Egyptain mythology) A major god who was killed by a kin but later resurrected. The Nile’s annual flooding provides much-needed silt that makes produce grow. The sprouting of the plants commemorates the rising of Osiris and marks the beginning of the Egyptian New Near.

Anubis - Jackal-headed ancient Egyptian god

Sobek - Crocodile-shaped ancient Egyptian god

From the womb of Lake Victoria, I burst forth,
Embarking on an epic journey towards the north
Where I will rendezvous with the Mediterranean.
Many are the obstacles and by the time I reach my destination,
I will be as crooked as a politician.

In some parts, I plunge hundreds of feet over cliff walls,
Sending off clouds of vapour as thick as tear gas.
In others, my brisk pace is reduced to leisurely stroll.
Enforced to tributaries, I soldier on to my distant goal,
Snaking through fantastic valleys and conquering scorching deserts.
‘Why doesn’t this river dry up?” mused the ancients.
“And where, oh where, is her secret source?”

For millennia, I held my secrets fast –
My age, my origin, my tributaries, my course –
Before I revealed all, men had to die as if cursed.
I am the Keeper of Genesis, Guardian of the Past.
I enabled great civilizations to spring from bare dust.
The pyramids, catacombs, historical cities like Alexandria,
The Pharaohs, their subjects and mighty dynasty,
All owe their existence to me.

Without me, Osiris would not resurrect,
Pudding-soft paddies would be as hard as tins,
Egyptians would go down like bowling pins,
Hippos, crocodiles, sacred ibis and fish of every description
Would lie lifeless, awaiting the Second Resurrection!
I am the real Goddess of Fertility – no river touches me.
The Mississippi falls short, the Thames only comes up to my knee.
I am Anubis among jackals, Sobek among crocodiles.
I am the Nile.

 (c) Alex Nderitu