A Bush in Egypt
by Michael Lawson

it wasn't burning at all,
was it?

You mistook
that dawn-antlered shrub—
its leafy crown inclined in reverence,
bursting with borrowed radiance,
liquid sun slipping
through the verdant crags—
for something else entirely,
didn't you?

You bled sweat
from false heat,
hummed the phantom tongues
of wind,
shielded your eyes
from imagined light.
Or did you stare right at it?

It was honest at first.
But when you saw your mistake
boil into the sky
like a raven before your sandal-skinned feet,
how long did your fingers
trace serpents in the desert dusk
before you realized
you could get away with it?

That they would follow you
as long as you were two dunes ahead?

And when you discovered that,
you did what great leaders
always have.

You improvised.

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