VII Kal. Nov.
I saw a tangle of four serpents in the sand today.
Tiresias was worse—or was he/she better?—for having separated such.
I did nothing, but instead watched them in amazement.
A shrine of a squat god, a dwarf adorned with ostrich feathers
gives oracles in the desolate desert across from Hermes’ city.
I wonder if Mercurius would be daring enough to place his rod
amidst the swirling helix of the serpents?
In his Egyptian form, I think his long curved beak
would not be their tree-limb around which to coil,
but instead their desolation as it slurped them up.
The dancing dwarf-god wears a lion’s skin,
a diminutive Hercules in victory, perhaps,
over some Nubian foe…perhaps another god itself.
I do not know these mysteries; only that dwarves
who dance naked and have the faces of satyrs
often laugh whether they are at killing or at fucking.
I hear the sounds of fucking from some part of camp every night:
the cooks or the grooms, or the Emperor and his boy,
or the Empress and one of her women,
or occasionally both, but never in the same room or tent.
Four serpents; four lovers…my head hurts, it’s all a mystery.
The Empress permits me to ask the dwarf-god’s oracle a question.
“When?” is all I ask; he will know of what I speak.
Whenever you like is the answer I get,
and Go dance with the Golden Goddess.
I wash in the temple’s fountain
and leave my sandals and my tunic on the tiles.
For their austerity in other cities, at this shrine,
the Egyptian priests are a riot of movement and sound,
and no small enticement toward the physical either.
They ply me with wine before they force me to dance
(though there is no “forcing” in it, only the appearance of force).
It is as if the Golden Goddess, this Egyptian Venus of Cyprus,
smiles upon me in her images, looking directly at me with both eyes,
and the wide smile and curled lips of the dwarf-god as well,
whether I spin and nearly collapse in dizziness,
or sit with legs apart simply taking in their visages,
or if I hold in my hand my own engorged flesh.
They say she is a serpent in other places.
With Nile water they rinse off my flesh,
the spatters of seed that scattered on me during the dance.
“The semen of the gods is upon his body”
they say as they rinse my own seed from me.
There are no snakes where I come from.
My head still hurts…did it hurt before the drink?
It has been a long and drunken night.