Thoughts on The Mummy (1999) from a Fellow Bembridge Reject

What’s true is that the CGI hasn’t aged terribly,

or maybe I’ve aged terribly.

As an ex-archaeologist, please explain to me why

if the ancient Egyptian curse were actually real,

why the sinister voice unfurling threads of time below the statue of Anubis

would taunt the French Foreign Legion in English? Seriously.

Brendan Fraser pulls off 1920s adventurer garb,

but can’t hold a candle to Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones.

If you ever need to loot a tomb – or become an archaeologist –

you know what color palette or Munsell shade you should choose.

Rachel Weisz isn’t simply a frustrated and sexy librarian,

but a Bembridge reject:

“They’ve rejected my application again, they say I haven’t got enough experience in the field.”

Honestly, this makes me feel a certain camaraderie with her

as Bembridge is obviously the nearly mythical Cambridge,

which has sent me more rejections than all the lit mags combined.

They have never given feedback as to why, but I can affirm that

I have too much experience in the field and maybe

that scares them. Bembridge folks want a delicate balance,

and if my doctoral advisor is right, it may be because my surname screams

“Northern Ireland” which is kind of their colony, and also it’s obvious

my great-grandparents wove their linens and licked their feet

before coming to America. For these rejections, I should be grateful.

Like Weisz’s Evie, I’m obviously destined for great success, like:

triggering the Ten Plagues of Egypt

awakening a very naughty mummy

sleeping with Brendan Fraser

Okay, maybe Bembridge/Cambridge made the right call.

I can promise I’ll never open a canopic jar,

or read from the Book of the Dead.

I can make grand pronouncements that foreshadow terror and zombies:

“Let’s make sure we don’t bring back anyone from the dead,”

says the random American. I am a random American

and I can promise I’ll never bring anyone back from the dead,

but I can’t promise that I won’t fall asleep with a jar and a book because I’m –

“You dream about dead guys?”

Not Fraser’s best quip, but it’s up there. I don’t

dream about dead guys, but Bembridge/Cambridge produces a lot

of dead guys, and if they hadn’t rejected Evie or I,

they could have less dead guys, but until then, I’ll settle

for resurrecting the dead  – but only the really sandy CGI ones.

Morgan L. Ventura (they/she) is a Sicilian-Irish American Rhysling-nominated poet, essayist, translator, and ex-archaeologist from the Midwest. Their poems and writing appear or are forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Geist Magazine, Augur, and Ghost City Review, among others. Ventura also is an editor for South Broadway Press. They tweet @hmorganvl

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