The Arrival
by Sylvia Ashby

She arrives
by royal barge and/or camel caravan.
Whether swaddled in billowing robes,
or clad in slinky chemise
like an art nouveau vamp
or simply wearing her bare breasts
cluttered with beads--
this depends on the painter.

She arrives
laden with treasure—a boatload
of sandalwood to build a Temple,
barrels of gold, jewels, exotic spice.
Also a supply of riddles and questions,
difficult riddles, incisive questions.
Of course, he knows all the answers--
his reputation intact--nay, validated.
His 100 or 1,000 wives are too busy
knitting booties or slathering on mascara
to be troubled by
her black beauty, her queenly ways.
In turn, he grants “all she desired.”

She arrives
yet soon returns to her southern realm
with or without child,
a seed possibly planted.
Their ancient encounter contracts
into a scene of grand potential,
a moment of perfect equation:
that singular, glowing moment when
Sheba arrives.

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