"I have remembered...
Almost too much to be."
"Aye well, all buddies noo.... He's no canny if ye ask me."
So you're back from the dead, are you?
How did it go, those two thousand years
Lying in a heap in the dark,
The world forgetting, by the world forgot?
Bet you didn't think they'd be fawning all over you
As the living embodiment of epic
When they hauled your broken bits
Back into the light of imperial day.
Or maybe you did. Even what's left
Of you, half of which makes no sense
And the other half of which is muddled as a crumbled golem
(Never mind, it was after your time),
Comes across as arrogant enough
Still to believe you never really, really believed
You were capable of being dead. And did you rule
In your heap of rubble while the goats
Cropped the miserable scrub over your hill?
Did you get all the servants in hell that were promised you,
Bilgames? Did you get to boast, to kill,
To wrestle and fondle Enkidu forever?
Are you disappointed to be, translated shade,
An above-ground hero once again,
At least by reputation, although
A dozen museums in cold and dreary countries
Home only to foragers and stone-age farmers when you were
The Great, the King who built the walls of Uruk back up
With your slaves after the deluge eliminated
All of Uruk's older downriver rivals,
Those, even those cold rooms with kid-gloved hands
And spectral northern European light
Are now the scattered ossuaries of your bits and bones?
Oh, you Lord of Kullab, Black of Beard,
Giant lapis irises where we have only eyes,
You fusion of elegant cuneiform,
Filth, and lady killing, not to mention
Stolen and repeated phraseology
Such as that last one but one, are you really
Around us anywhere anymore,
Really now everywhere, in the air? I love the idea
That the earliest ghost of Bibles
And Babels and heroic epics strides
Again among us, shepherd past his bleating sheep,
Hand in hand with his wild lover, the former gazelle,
Trailing clouds of goddesses and queens, but
I think you are really only still young,
Much as I hate to please you with that
Planted thought below the waves of what remains,
A recent thing, a king, fifth on one recent list of kings,
One thin edge of good old culture's wedge,
Old as tools, old as flakes, much older than you,
Pushed, so innovatively, at the dawn of your new age,
Into some dirt, then over-cooked,
Then broken and left to yourself,
That long, long time ago that was yesterday.
In any case, enough. I loved the mountains and Huwawa,
Raised with a cave for a mother, cave for a father,
More than you, more than Shamhat (although, damn,
She was hot), more than Ishtar, or Enkidu. Better,
In my eyes, it had been the monster, and not
The overthrow of kingdoms and memory, better
It had been the cedars, and not the newest, farm-grown
Lot of gods, so perfected, so abstracted, who
Had to, really, truly, had to fully kill you.