Photos Not Taken

January, 2008

Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada

Dear Cindy,

Here’s a copy of notes I’ve made to add to our ‘Souvenir’ collections for our trip to Egypt in August 2007. Our opportunities in Life often come about in such interesting ways! Who would have guessed that taking Beginner Bellydance classes would have led to our journey back, so far back, to another land we dearly love.

Photos Not Taken

Cindy, my friend, do you remember all those great photos not taken

when Egypt called for our return?

You heard in the silence the mystics there chanting

“The Queens are coming! The Queens are coming!”

How you cried as we descended from the sky,

modern tourists in magical flying machines…

Our walk just naturally changed in an instant feet touched upon

gold and turquoise memories…

Gone were our greatly humbled lives in the West.

We were time-travelers reborn, two Nubian/Egyptian Queens,

daring Hatshepsut and beautiful Nefertiti.

Our small Canadian tour group kept a hectic pace

but my silver-nailed feet and yours insisted we walk

in a leisurely ‘royal stroll’ at the end of every ‘procession’.

Our ‘King Tut’, humble Wael, often joined us there,

a bridge between converging worlds.

I called him ‘the third living key’. He chuckled.

Our ‘bodyguard’ Pharis also walked behind us,

hands clasped loosely behind his back, yet ever ready,

as when I was the gentle Lady Wu and he, my bodyguard.

You knew him also, boys in Tibet, a Buddhist Monastery…

He would have gladly died for you too.

How strange that a college bellydance class led to this…

Glorious Egypt, the Sacred Nile, those we once knew…

You remembered the ‘trance dance’ and I, too, was a ‘god’s wife’

dancing through rituals, mythological enactments, offerings

of flowers, fruit, grains, and seed of Egypt…

You recalled the death rites as priestess, shaven heads,

and another life dancing ‘only for gold’.

I was a struggling artisan, noble daughter, lowly slave…

Our bones are scattered everywhere in Egypt!

Of course, we could both be wrong. I think ‘not’.

We carry these memories buried deep within us

yet, somehow they rise to the surface now and then.

So there we were back again in our beloved Egypt,

daring Hatshepsut and beautiful Nefertiti…

“How the mighty have fallen!” haha

Two ancient Queens carrying their own burdens,

luggage, and water, and digital cameras.

We left all our riches and ‘mummy’ wraps behind.

“No, I’m sorry, you can’t take it with you!!”

How we laughed, heads wisely bowed in a royal tomb.

You recalled the wooden Hieroglyph ‘Stamps’

for perfect creations on walls and columns, stamped hieroglyphs

used to imprint our messages to the future.

Who would have thought our Valleys of the Dead

would bring curious tourists from every land?!

Remember the Cairo Museum, Tut’s treasure room,

where we moved in slow lines weeping uncontrollably

as in a funeral procession missed just by a few centuries…

In those glass- barriered display cases there you saw

some of your adornments added to his.

You wept as if it was all happening now,

and I wept in great sympathy for your loss…

your beloved step-son, the child of your heart.

Then remember my utter amazement,

seeing my desert-glass scarab necklace there!

So they didn’t bury it all, … my own treasures!!

Was this evidence of old priestly plunders?

How many generations wore my ‘crown jewels’?

I wondered through emotion-storm tears.

Just where are all my treasures?

Then seeing Tut’s ‘work of art’ chariots

we laughed again through our tears…

You said, “That one was mine !”

You gave it as a gift to him, a prized possession,

like a modern teen’s first car…

You said he died from injuries of a hunting accident.

All that he might have done was left undone…

All the glories that might have been…

So many times we heard “The Ancients are here.”

“She had many lives in China too,” one said,

and I humbly bowed my head.

Then we ventured down the hall to Hatshepsut’s ‘space’,

where I tuned out the tour-guide’s recitation,

and the sounds of numerous voices and languages,

to stand and observe in my soul’s inner silence.

I saw my daughter now, Alissa, and the man I once loved…

My heart grew tender, lotus fragrance filled the air…

Suddenly, I laughed, so amused by the ‘Great Audacity’,

the Nubian/Egyptian woman who dared become Pharaoh.

There, too, do you recall our great surprise

seeing in the nearby statue of Thutmosis,

my own brother, Don, in his youth?!!

How he loved to hunt, even as he does now.

What a day for tears and laughter!!!

Remember, too, the Cruise on the Sacred Nile,

the little ‘here and now gifts’ I thought of in Canada,

small, fleeting offerings sent into the stream of life one night…

Little, meaningful tokens and a lock of our hair…

Our bodies are now ‘here’ and part of us rests ‘there’…

How many times have we done that before?

So many lives lived near that river’s shore!

We saw how the sand has claimed so much land…

Remember the day ascending my Splendour of Splendours?

It was created after my visit to ‘The Holy Land’, the Land of ‘Punt’.

My architects and artists also went with me, no ‘photos’ taken

of all that was said and done. How little today’s people know of our trading ships,

our expeditions, the extent of our many alliances.

Our times and histories are a jumbled mess of puzzling mysteries,

desecrated by so many agendas!!

I was Queen of Saba, trading port, and so much more,

Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia,

and modern Somalia… this was my domain.

Like you, I led campaigns to keep the tributes flowing.

My expedition to Punt first headed south along the coast

to gather all manner of gifts from trading ports.

Then, laden with trade, we headed north, by sea, then by land

all the way to ‘The Holy Land’.

I had heard of the wisdom of Solomon, his wealth,

his political alliances, his trading partnerships.

The ships of Hiram of Tyre also came to my coasts.

We went to Punt to enrich Egypt,

to gain a key alliance in the world of my day.

We showed Solomon a glimpse of our glory.

What unfolded united our ancient nations

in ways that often made me smile.

We wrote Love Songs to each other

as Egypt lingered, on holiday, for a while.

Little wonder later generations would hide the truth

of all that once was political wisdom of Solomon and Sheba’s day.

My heart burst open and I wept for joy

ascending the central stairs with you, my friend,

our feet finding harmony on the ‘royal steps’.

The architecture of the Splendour of Splendours was

my trading expedition’s lasting ‘Souvenir’!

Remember us sitting with our tour group in the Bazaar?

The old woman selling jasmine flowers appeared.

She looked at you with eyes shining genuine wonder.

In motherly tenderness she touched and held your face,

gave you all her jasmine flowers freely, and turned to walk away.

A costly gesture for the poor, this wise, old custom.

I gave her grateful money in ‘free trade’ for flowers.

There was such joy in the eyes of that Flower Lady!

You felt sure she’d been your mother once,

and we felt bonded in our love of flowers,

their beauty and soul-stirring fragrance…

Like Egypt of Yesterday and Egypt of Today,

she gloried in your gift of Beauty flowering,

and like old Egypt, I helped enrich her in my own small way.

So many wonderful memories there,

so many pictures to share,

so many photos not taken!!!


your time-travel friend,

Ariel (Shelley)

shelley wilson—‘ariel-shelley’



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