English poetry

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Elusive wisdom

thoth (who became hermes who became mercury)
Who was both moon and wisdom to the egyptians
Manifested himself mainly as an ibis – a watery bird
A restless creature that could not stop searching
Through marshy ground with its sickle-shaped beak

So to the christians the bird became a scavenger
The worst sinner from whom sins sprout forth and grow
Sacred ibises have had to learn (like any living body)
You can’t do a thing in this damned contrary world
Without someone somewhere tearing out its guts

And if you see two ibises (say) standing together
By a river waiting for their friend the moon to appear
They do have the stance of a couple of old professors
Who have said all there is to say about the fraught
Histories of every species that has got itself a life

Not that they disguise their own frailties – any joker
Could knock their legs from under them – they have
Such a tenuous touch on earth you’d have to guess
Their brains were in their beaks which maybe sums up
The base nature of wisdom – a glimpse of the innate

Shrouded in moon darting through water gasping for
Its last touch of air in a slithery marsh – somewhere
There is a store (a golden sump) of truths all life
Has gleaned about itself (indiana jones can’t find it)
The querulous beak of the ibis is our frail best bet

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Poem Elusive wisdom - Rg Gregory