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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