For one day, he said, I would be the emperor, and he would be the beggar.
With the crown upon my head, the fine silks, and the cooing harem
slaves, I knew…
The emperor was my greatest enemy.
In the morning, I lounged in the dining hall with ambassadors.
In the afternoon, I moved armies over maps to crush the feeble barbarians.
By sundown, I lounged in the harem for my one night of earthly bliss.
By morning, I learned that the vizier’s assassins had made quick work
of the beggar in the marketplace who wore my name. I’m trapped in this cage of silk and intrigue.
Bow to me, your Emperor, then, but how can I remain there, waiting
for the vizier’s practiced hand?
I take my retinue to the marketplace, and find my greatest rival
among the beggars. I place the crown upon his head.
“Emperor for a day,” I say.
He laughs until he realizes what I have done to him. The palace guards lead him away.
I wait in the alley.
I watch the shadows.
I sharpen my knives.