Plate 79 Crocodile Valley of the Kings, Egypt
Dear Keats, why Italy?
You’d have loved this crocodile,
smiling with his eyes closed, one plunge
from the meaty neck of a gazelle.
O happy crocodile, O John,
he looked like this for centuries
before you lived and died, blissed out,
savoring his knowledge
before savoring his meat.
He looked like this when Linda took
the photograph, in 1989.
And now, too: in Egypt, in how many photographs
(of hers, of others’) reprinted in how many books,
and here, this poem, the scent of dinner
in his nostrils as he smiles,
a happy happy happy happy croc,
a wakeful, sturdy unwarnable gazelle,
who doesn’t know,
perpetually, his doom, though he’s smiling too:
a gloater? Stone gazelle.
(This poem originally appeared on The Awl (www.theawl.com))