The faience hippopotamus
was a fixture of my childhood
a replica on the bookshelf
the original in The Museum
that had pirated it away
out of an Egyptian grave.
That museum robbed tombs, thieved pots,
stole golden diadems.
An entire ancient world’s continents
shone beneath the moon.

The Temple of Dendur
from Nubia
praises no pharaoh
but Augustus Caesar
and the goddess Isis
who always collects the pieces
puts things back together.
Now it has been moved stone by stone
to a giant solarium high on 5th Avenue
while so-called Cleopatra’s needle,
an obelisk, corrodes in rain, in heat,
the soot and diesel fumes
of New York. No wonder
as a child
I couldn’t always tell truth from lies
beauty obscured the facts. Everything
was stolen: time, the corpse of Hector, the Lindberg baby
our last name, the other version
of the story
in which I was free
and could fly.

Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 books of poetry, memoir, and fiction. She blogs at Miriam's Well -- Read other articles by Miriam, or visit Miriam's website.