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Tribute to the Gods
Allen McGill

The triangular sail of the felucca shows white against the darkening sky. Its peak rises above the hills of the sacred West Bank, across the Nile from ancient Luxor. I have the boatman cross slowly, eager to savor the gentle smells and sounds of the Egyptian night.

faint stars
emerge from the blue
boatmen exchange calls

A horse-drawn buggy waits on the far shore to carry me to the Valley of the Kings. The carriage jounces along cobbled streets - straining leather, clopping hooves - through communities lit only by light through open doors and windows. Men in long robes, skull caps. Smell of lamb roasting on a spit.

smoke curls
from tabletop hookahs
reedy music

The road smoothes, traffic grows. A lighted plaza opens to my view beyond cars and wagons. Djeser Djeseru! "Splendor of Splendors!" The 3,000 year old temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Egypt's only female Pharaoh, huddled at the base of a sheer cliff.

Awash in light, the long stairway rises to the majestic building; sphinxes crouch along each side. Musicians, the Cairo opera ballet, elaborate sets and five-thousand eager aficionados wait beneath the clear Egyptian sky.

murmurs of awe
rise into the evening
instruments are tuned

As the overture begins, I lean forward, unable to relax - the magnificent sounds of Verdi's music permeate the air. I watch, listen, hold my breath. Performers - hundreds of them - enter the lower stage area: Aida, Radames and Amneris adorned in bejeweled, golden costumes. More important, their voices richer and more glorious.

warm evening
I shiver with chills
of pleasure

Luxuriating in the lush sights and sound, I eagerly await the opera's highlight; the Triumphal March. On cue, trumpets blare, rising in pitch and tempo. Hundreds more performers appear on the top steps to descend slowly, spreading out like a living, vividly colored fan. Orchestra and voices blend, build to a crescendo. Excitement reaches a peak that neither I nor the rest of the audience can contain. Someone stands - another - a few more. I rise to join them, shouting "Bravo!" time and again. Soon, the entire audience is on its feet - the frenzied roar blotting out the music. The audience ecstatic.

celebration -
to awaken the gods
of ancient Egypt

Those on stage freeze, as does the orchestra, until the cacophony gradually quells itself. After the finale I rise, a bit embarrassed by my enthusiastic outburst, to seek a taxi back to Luxor. A new route this time, befitting a majestic experience - across the new bridge built and bedecked in honor of Aida.

the Nile flows past -
gold lotus blossoms strewn
on a red carpet

Originally from NYC, Allen lives, writes, acts and directs theatre in Mexico.

His published fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, photos, etc., have appeared in print as well as on line: NY Times, The Writer, Newsday, Literary Potpourri, Flashquake, Poetry Midwest, Herons Nest, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, World Haiku Review, many others.