The Naughty Grotto

The Naughty Grotto
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audio: The Naughty Grotto
audio of Keith O'Shaughnessy's poem, The Naughty Grotto

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The Naughty Grotto

Enter, Friend, Love’s Naughty Grotto.
Its quarry builds a pyramid,
The tomb of an almighty Pharaoh;
Here daughters do as fathers bid,
And asses follow where they’re led—
Veiled chambers, jarred sarcophagi,
Seal mysteries.  Pry off their lid…
There you stand.  Here I lie.

Come inside Death’s Naughty Grotto.
Here, in their temple’s shade, gods sweat,
Where lovers’ cries still echo hollow;
There let yourself yourself forget.
In bedsheets wrap the jackal’s head,
Silk bandages to mummify
The ghostly bones quick spirits fled.
There you stand.  Here I lie.

Withdraw; go from Art’s Naughty Grotto.
Dream of the hieroglyphs you read
Carved on its walls, the cryptic motto
Of Hathor: “Lover, come to bed;
Tonight the living meet the dead.
Ride my back below the sky,
Behind the sun that burns moons red.
There you stand.  Here I lie.

A princess wept; a nation bled—
One cave, ten thousand stones.  All die;
None solves the riddle its Sphinx hid.
Here I stand.  There you lie.