Because I rarely think of the word pharaoh, when I hear it
humming in my head I have to check the definition but instead
remember fifth grade, Mrs. Huckabee, my blue shirt, that the word
in Egyptian once meant “great house.” I hadn’t known
until then a word could enclose something more than itself.
In the United States of America, in the year 2020, it’s the month
of March—right before bed the government said everything
would mostly be fine, said all we needed to do was wash our hands.
But this morning when we woke as we wake every morning,
we could no longer leave our homes. I fed my dog a red potato.
I asked my daughter about myopia. I watched through the window
sunlight performing nothing in particular while the radio announced
if someone were to die, we could not hold a funeral. Then
for the first time in years, I wrote the word pharaoh, learning again
whenever this happens, no matter what, I must first misspell it
before the letters begin making any kind of sense.
Trey Moody is from San Antonio, Texas. His first book, Thought That Nature (Sarabande), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize. He teaches at Creighton University and lives with his daughter in Omaha.