Wet Nurse of the God – a poem by Ann Cuthbert

Wet Nurse of the God
‘Maia’ was the wet nurse of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. Her rock-cut tomb was discovered in the Saqqara necropolis in 1996.
 
I thought I’d get some peace here in the afterlife – 
brought all my things for relaxation: smart folding
chair, sunshade, systrum, pots of unguent – might
have time for a face mask here, I thought. But no – 
I’ve been disturbed so many times over the ages – 
men fumbling, rummaging, breaking their way in. 
This time’s no different; here they come, digging, 
opening up, shining their lights, interrogating.
I’m royalty, you know – albeit a by-blow – although
we’re all related – brother-husband, mother-aunt,
you get the picture. Great one of the harem, one of 
this lot reads, sizes me up.
 
Look over there, I tell them. Find my name,
though even that disguises. You can piece
it all together, tell a tale – how I fed the flesh
of a god, educated his body. He was another one
knew what he wanted, eyes closed, mouth open,
rooting, bobbing, frantic till he’d latched on. 
I feel that tug still.
 
There’s me – look, there’s a story – yes that’s a throne.
I sit and dandle the boy-king in my linen lap. Or here,
lotus-crowned, I’m resurrected, hand raised – but
am I doing homage to my lord or being goddess Bast,
cat licking her kitten, smoothing a milk drop from
his divine face?

Ann Cuthbert enjoys writing and performing poems, usually with the Tees Women Poets collective. Her work has been widely published in magazines and anthologies online and in print, most recently 14 and Not Very Quiet magazines. Her poetry chapbook is Watching a Heron with Davey (Black Light Engine Room Press). 

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