Poems of the Week


by Julia Griffin

“Talk like an Egyptian: mummy’s voice heard 3,000 years after death
Researchers in UK recreate Nesyamun’s sound using 3D version of his vocal tract”
—The Guardian

What did a mummy sound like? Now we know.
A 3D version of one vocal tract
Is now available on audio.
You might expect it snufflesome and cracked,
A sort of prehistoric phonograph;
In fact the sound is clear and not that deep.
You can imagine how the corpse might laugh,
Or warble in his bath, or cough, or weep.
As for the words he utters, or the word:
There’s some dispute. It sounds a bit like “air,”
Or maybe “bare.” Or how would you construe
This fleeting, bleating syllable you heard?
The past lies still for all its heirs to bear.
What does the mummy say? That’s up to you.