in the pre-Raphaelite days,
they ground up Egyptian mummies and made them into paint
a deep burnt umber from white pitch, myrrh, a little pharaoh,
all the browns you could create, for lumber, or sparrows, or wheelbarrows,
touched with the marrow of decay.
in the Edwardian days, the practice was delayed
no more mummy browns, no more mummies could be found
but every museum has a wing where dead kings hang by a string,
mixed into the colors of saints and sinners and lovers,
waters deep, fires blazing, with dust there was no use in wasting
and who could hate a hand that looked at a person and saw a painting.