Recently, while conducting my annual researches into the origins of the beloved holiday legend of Osiris Claus, I had occasion to venture deep into the vaulted reaches of a dusky book-crypt. Far and far I had crept, flickering cell-phone my only source of illumination as I scanned the cobwebbed stacks in search of the rumored grimoire. Out amidst the dusty plains of the online social mediasphere, I had heard rumours – hints, really. Messages encoded in the subject lines of what appeared to be spam. Clues found in acrostics formed by the first letters of each line of official governmental press releases. Numerological indications conveyed in YouTube hitcounts. After carefully collating all available evidence with myself and my avatars in a marathon session of Google Wave, I had been directed to this particular section of a failing independent bookstore.
There! Surely THIS. THIS black-bound volume – It must be that which I had so long sought. I had come across a musty volume of forgotten Moore – Clement Clarke Moore, or so I took it to be at the time. I had long speculated that Moore was among the occult initiates of the Osiran League – a secret brotherhood devoted to reintegrating the ancient secrets of Old Kingdom Egypt into the day-to-day life of his world and time. At long last, I held in my hands the very manuscript that would prove or disprove my cherished notions of the initiate’s knowledge – the Secret of Santa Claus himself!
Opening the crumbling volume, I flipped past a number a pages which did not seem to fit my hypothesis, pulling them easily from the cracking spine of the volume and setting them alight in order to better illuminate what I sought – for there it was! What to my wondering eyes should appear, but an early draft of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” or so it seemed. The lines were crabbed and etched with strikeouts and annotations; up and down the margins were curious figures of stylized birds and feathers and such.
I was able to copy the entirety of the poem before my cell battery died but was startled by a deep coughing noise from the depths of the stacks. Dropping the book in stark terror, I ran deep into the maze. I know not how long and long I wandered, my only source of nourishment the binding glue from well-thumbed romance novels, remaindered Twilight books, and the like. I only know that when I emerged blinking into the light of day, a black man was the president, yet neither socialism nor universal health care had come to pass in the land.
I reprint the lines here, but I must caution you: some say to read this work leads ineluctably to madness! You have been warned.
The children and slaves were all locked up for the night
while night-fleets of bats and scarabs took flight
The pharoah and queen in headdress and cap
had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.
When out in the courtyard arose such a clatter
Pharoah and guards sprang to see what was the matter.
Away to the gates and the walls they all dashed
as braziers were kindled and bronze weapons flashed.
The moon on the sand at the banks of the Nile
Gave the white sheen of snowfall to to palm trees and tile –
When what to those wondering eyes did appear
but a floating sarcophagus and green mummy so queer.
That wizened corpse stood, neither living nor virus
All knew in a moment it must be Osiris
Returned as each year to bridge the dead and the quick
Then he whistled, and shouted, and called them all Nick.
“Now, Nick! Now Nicholas! Now Nicky, and Nick!
On, Nik! On Nik-nok! On, Nicolas and Nick!
To the top of the pyramid, to the top of the tomb!
Now dash away, dash away, dash up past the moon! ”
As sand, dust, and leaves before the desert wind fly
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up past the mastaba the courtiers they flew,
With the sarcophagus, and Osiris too.
And then in a twinkling the pharoah he heard
the great rush of wind from the wings of that bird
Horus’ hawk eye took in all with no pause
And then lent Osiris the strength of his claws
Each year the sown mummy springs up from his box
garments and flesh stitched bloody with ashes and rocks;
his emerald skin wound in scarlets and creams
sprouts split the silt by the river’s blue stream.
His eyes – how they burned! His brow darkly beetling!
His cheeks were like mosses, his nose like a seedling!
His lips were drawn back in a rictus of death
But such vigor and motion – he surely drew breath!
A bundle of wheat formed the staff of his flail
his red and white spiral crook kept the herd in the vale
while his limbs were quite thin he shone bright as day
flashing and sparking like a spring storm on the way
Dessicated and thin, a cadaverous mummy
His green skin and scars looked rotten and plummy
His unblinking eye and twisted gnarled hand
raised high and showed all who was lord in this land;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work.
He filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
Bony hand at arm’s length to the Pharoah he strode
then clutching the king to his bosom he rose
He sprang to his coffin, stilling the screams of the king
And away they all flew like the bird on the wing.
he was heard to exclaim, ere he hove out of sight,
“A fecund Nile flood to all, and to all a good night!”