Painting on Papyrus
The blue feathered ibis is a symbol of immortality; the crescent-shaped lotus flowers, symbols of immortality; even the goggle-eyed asp who sheds his skin, symbol of immortality.
Surely the redskinned priest or honeybrown priestess striding in silhouette know this; And the painted hieroglyphs— owl, vulture, eye of Horus— make it clear. The only ones who do not seem to understand are a long-tailed civet cat beautifully striped, caught in the act of bagging a bluebilled goose with red head and downy yellow belly, beautifully dying.
Le Loi I cross the red bridge over the sleeping waters of the Lake of the Returned Sword Here Le Loi went fishing and reeled in a magic sword With it he drove the Ming out of Viet land and beheaded their general; he said: “better to win people’s hearts than break down castle walls” The red bridge “soaks up sunlight” and leads to the Moonlit tower. After the war Le Loi went fishing-- a giant turtle of pure gold surfaced-- an immortal, it’s said, who seized the sword and dove back into the green depths where it remains to this day in the shadow of the red bridge and the moonlit tower.
Luke Powers teaches English and Folklore at Tennessee State University, an historically black university in Nashville, TN. He moonlights as a songwriter and has recorded with Garth Hudson of The Band and Richard Lloyd of Television.