Good evening Julie,
Glad you quite enjoyed this piece! And thank you for the interesting questions you raise. I'll do my best to address them in order. So: yes, Khnum rises up from under the First Cataract; he's a god, after all, but I've changed the line to "rose up from beneath." I've also changed what the "You" says to a question: "Is the work ... all lost ... ?" The answer then being: it may seem so, but in fact, it's not. I could go with silt as you argue, but I like the sound of sand there more and I'll argue that a lot of stuff is buried under sand in Egypt. I've also updated "smoke won't rise" to "might rise," in honor of your fine Eid al-Adha point. I've seen a lot of offerings on Tibetan Buddhist altars, but the stuff doesn't get burned into smoke. So yeah, sacrifice, offering, burnt sacrifice - it gets complicated IMO. Incense is a sort of burnt offering, after all. Voodoo and Santeria I'll admit, but they can I think be called minor, fitting with the rarity. Hinduism does a lot with fire and may well still have sacrifices, though not the horse offerings of the Rig Veda. I don't know.
This I agree might be nice: "to draw a more obvious parallel between a god who shaped humanity from clay and the humans who shaped this statue from...stone, is it? But maybe that obviousness isn't needed." I don't see an obvious way in for that into the poem though, so I'll just ponder for now.
In general, the last stanza still, I think, needs tinkering. It had a sort of balance I've now jeopardized. Also, I'm concerned that "Attributed to Paul Eluard" by the epigraph is clunky. I'd very much value folks' thoughts on those topics, particularly since this opens my MS.
Julie: "I hope some of this nit-pickiness is useful." Clearly the answer is yes. Q.E.D. And as a pedant of long standing, I don't find this nit-picky at all, I find it fascinating. :-)
Update: another bunch of editing just added in S2-4.
Update II: it's silt not sand now. Thanks Julie!
Last edited by John Isbell; 09-11-2019 at 10:33 PM.