Colossi of Memnon
Amenhotep III’s Mortuary Palace
By Kathleen Calby
October 15, 2023
October 15, 2023
Seated five stories high, two figures dominate
what little remains in this pock-marked moonscape,
and I am stunned as a bird that flies at the glass.
Even if I stood before them, I could not reach
their feet. These two images meant to guard
the entrance to a pharaoh’s temple once
he’d passed, so we could worship how godlike
he’d become. We do not stop. Not worthwhile
enough, the guide says, but I would like
to crane my neck to see their faces, take my measure
of their size. This site now called by a Greek king’s
name. So complete the ruin around these rising
monuments, nothing rivals them now. The Nile’s
spring draft once bled the foundations—a slow,
slow demise. Other pharaohs, too, took their cut, pirated
the finished stones for temples they were building. Once,
this th-th-the largest com-com-complex in Egypt,
crackles the voice on the bus microphone. See the cracks
and seams? An earthquake smote these man-made gods.
The Romans put them to rights, rather than cart the giants
off. How could they take them so far from home?
Kathleen Calby calls the Blue Ridge Mountains home and hosts writer events for the North Carolina Writers Network in Henderson County. After she moved South several years ago, she learned the pleasures of fried chicken, barbeque and fresh doughnuts and the benefit of walking in the hills. Her work appears in Broad River Review, San Pedro River Review and New Plains Review, among other publications. Named a 2022 Rash Award Poetry Finalist. Kathleen’s chapbook Flirting with Owls was published in 2023 by Kelsay Books.