It’s night: the watchman discovers a thief in the fields.
They fight, the thief is slain, but his kinsman kills the watchman in revenge.
The watchman’s sons find the dead thief’s kinsman selling molasses in the market.
They hack him to pieces with their mattocks. They eat his heart. It’s day.
It’s true—it’s Egypt, 1945. No one would speak against them—
some silent from fear, some choked with hatred of the dead man and his kin.
Months pass. The watchman’s sons stalk slowly through dry hills.
They find a cave, and a red jar, very old.
Is it heavy with gold? Does it cage a demon?
The elder brother conjures courage, hoists his mattock, smashes down.
Below the whirling dust are 13 books—cracked and ancient, without sense
(no one taught these brothers how to read). Books hiss as kindling in their mother’s oven.
By chance, a Coptic priest comes. He saves what few remain.
They are relics of the bygone Gnostics—the Apocyphon of James,
the Tripartite Tractate, the Treatise on the Resurrection.
They have nothing in common but this: each declares the evil of this world.