"Egyptian Water Carrier," Jean-Leon Gerome, circa 1882, Wikiart photo.
“Egyptian Water Carrier,” Jean-Leon Gerome, circa 1882, Wikiart photo.

Part 1: Sacrifice and Sea Spray

Yearling pig sacrificed in my behalf, not
As goddess but as slave girl, pregnant by
Her master, for his drunken pleasures,
Death sentence I received. Servant as to
Slave, my life spared, cloth-wrapped pig
Heart presented as death proof, chains
Lost and coins given, on merchant ship
I boarded, growing heart womb-beating,
Destined for antique lands.

Perspective of open oceans, promise of
Desert towns, rising sun, starry nights,
Wind-filled sails, on deck I slept, splashed
By salty spray, sailing from Cyprus to
Distant Libya, camel caravan upon arid
Seas of sand, burnished faces accepted
Me, like them, I was of dark hair and
Eyes, healing shackle abrasions on ankles,
My name Zayda, my family war-killed.

"Bedouin at an Oasis with Pyramids," David Bates, 1902, WikiArt photo.
“Bedouin at an Oasis with Pyramids,” David Bates, 1902, WikiArt photo.

By flickering camp fires, my companions
Offered food and drink, sleeping nights
Beneath starry nights, riding by rising sun,
Little feet kicking within, hiding rounding
Abdomen with dark, wind-flowing robes,
We arrived at tree-ringed oasis where an
Ancient temple provided resting shade,
To prophets my fellow travelers prayed,
Reverence devout, worshiping their god.

Whilst I knew not their god, slave girl now
Coinless and with child, who can say how
Deific voices stir hearts as desert winds
Reshape rippling sands? I felt life calling,
Knowing presence equal as child within.
Such were soul delights, amongst shepherds
At oasis I dwelled as family, son was born,
Named Kudret, “Mighty One,” after my
Father and our war-conquered clans.

"Portion of Eastern Portico," David Roberts, WikiArt photo.
“Portion of Eastern Portico,” David Roberts, WikiArt photo.

Amongst shepherds, I remained, oasis and
Son, yet from this temple I would not leave,
My grazing flock satisfied at water’s edge
For I discovered fount of mystic writings,
Beckoning prophesies, solitary figure within
Cooling temple halls, dates and figs, nursing
Son, my brutal past sand-vanquished, by
Visions divine, my destiny was written on
cryptic rolls of ancient papyri.

Next is “Part 2: Dolius, Desert Wanderer.”

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