When the Spartan boys are calling down the spirits,
For those fallen of Thyrea, and Thermopylae!
When the festival of Gymnopoedia turns Athens to rapturous dance, listen, and you will hear the steps of a million whirling soldiers.
Join us in this festival, oh!
For Athene, oh, the victor!
And oddly, the crowd swells – a morass of spinning bodies – but Athens only watches.
For who would dare join the dead in their dance?
Imut, washes his hands in the Nile under the nodding palms of Thebes. Hoopoes dance around his feet, crests flared like headdresses.
‘There’s no worm here!’ he says, just curlicues of his wife’s blood, drifting from his hands to the sea.
‘Oo-o, oo-o,’ the birds say.
Later, in the chapel of the dead he leaves grain and lapis-stained papyrus.
But I don’t hunger for berries; my worm is the bitter, seasoned soul of the murderer.
Oo-o, oo-o, Imut, oo-o…