the nile, in her simplicity, is mild mannered. but it is in context…of how long…at points- how deep…how sustaining she is…that boggles.

and it was with many eyes that i absorbed the nile on the five day cruise.

from the top of the high dam…looking south side where the water has collected making lake nasser and north where the nile has been tamed into submission to the hydroelectric whims of people…

from the cushioned bench of a fulucca – sail billowing against blazing blue sky – waves splashing cool water on my face as birds soar to landing on the glistening surface…

high above the shores where children wave while acrid smoke trails at a languishing pace…

the face of the nile is unchanging but not my view.

she is not coy. her treasures line her shores easily. riding the motor boat up to luxor, the temple sits within easy sight of the nile, nestled between busy streets and claustrophobic hotels all leaning in for a better view. old meets new in a casual acquaintance…luxor a nosy neighbor to progress.

and in karnack – sprawling out for acres…gate after gate after stone gate opening up into hall after hall. ramses II showing his might and before and after him others, erasing their predecessors. thitmosis III erasing hapshetsut as far as he dared – leaving her obelisk in tact but walling it in instead for fear of divine retribution.

and of course hapshesut’s temple…grand before III’s defacing of her statues in the wake of her death. but even in death she was confident…arranging her burial in the valley of the kings for her final respite.

and the nile unveils them all…some closer than others…but they all drink from her water, her wealth, her fertile shores…

until now. the dam controlling her tempest mood swings. keeping flooded waters at bay. only to reveal the balance of life now unbalanced…that without her mighty anger there is no fertile soil. and where once crops grew easy, now they require chemical might. control comes at a price.

but drifting down the nile…papyrus on the shore…women, clad in black galibaya’s and hair wrapped tightly from view, washing clothes in the nile…mules grazing…sugar cane emerging from terraced plots…mosque’s green minarets lighting the horizon…call to prayers floating on the breeze…is as old as time or as new as now.

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