Daughter of Egypt

Joshua Sassoon Orol

       I remember playing Kebechet as a child,stealing ground malachite from Mother                        to green my eyelids, weight them            with the slow blink of an old goddess.I remember bathing with my sisters,                                feeling ashamed as the Nile                    rose up my wading calves until    the surface caught my hipsand parted briefly beneath my penis, floating                 like a dead frog across from their elegant folds.I remember what Father did to Shifra and Puah                            the handmaidens who refused to drown                                            the Israelite boys,                    making all his sons watchbut smiling with his teeth        when Imhotep the Eldest lifted their still warm hearts    from the clay draining bowls                                    and offered to  crush them himself                    so they'd fine no love in the afterlife.I remember Mother saying lesser wives                            find love with their first child,        wiping my eyelids clean                        tough brow but gentle thumbs            never hiding the makeup                            where it couldn't be found.I remember the Israelites' full beards and hairy chests                                                              broad from the brick churn,                 what I saw when they bathed, their god                        demanded flesh,                what I'd wept for braveryto do at midnight with a sharp flint,            more darling than I, but reaching for less.And I remember calling to their god:Oh Adonai I am not your child,                I have begged Osiris and Ra, even prayed                to myself, but none of us can fix me—                                                                            can you please?                    Next the river flooding red and the frogs boiling out of it,            Father asking his impossible question,                    hips squared, toe dug into the bloody mud, and the toads                                smothering each other             to climb his ankles, asking:Are you not all sons of Pharaoh?And Mother combing the lice from my hair, exasperated                        that I wouldn't cut it like my brothers, bravest sisters,                                                while I tried to ignore through the windowthe goats crying like children.        I remember the goats that survived the beastssuccumbing to disease, Father striding out                                            on feet covered in boils            to survey the corpses,                                harden his heart.Mother's eyes shining with reflections of flames and hail,                            and when the locust that blocked the sky parted                the sun was gone      as if they had devoured the light from the very air.She took my hand saying                                                girls are always the bravest.I remember Father wrapping cotton around my brothers'    faces, no servants        in the room that smelledof palm wine, organs, and resin, saving Imhotep                for last,            cradling him like the Nile's tumbled stone,    beautiful, but loanedwondering if it was worth the strange god's blooddebt,        if it was worth breaking my father,every father brokento stand naked and proven in front of them,            Father Pharaoh and the bodies of my brothers     with my long braid and a pulse in my throat                at the tip of my thumb and the dorsal between my legs            to think I'm alive and      all the sons of Pharaoh are dead.

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Joshua Sassoon Orol is a trans Jewish poet from Raleigh, NC, writing with the texts, tunes, and stories passed down from their mixed heritage family. Joshua completed an MFA at NC State University, and received an Academy of American Poets prize while at UNC Chapel Hill. Their poetry can be read in recent or forthcoming issues of Mud Season Review, Nimrod, and Poetry.

Spring/Summer 2019, Vol. 62. No. 2

Tulsa, Oklahoma

The University of Tulsa

Managing Editor
Eilis O'Neal

Since its founding in 1956 at The University of Tulsa, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry’s mission has been the discovery, development, and promotion of new writing.

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