Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Cave of Shanidar by Gary Every

What else really matters
            except that someone loved him
            and loved him dearly
            enough to place flowers in his grave.
            The archeologist excavates;
            carefully scraping the remains
            of a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal
            into a sack
            to be weighed and analyzed.
            So much of prehistory has been lost;
            social structure, tribal government,
            and even though the shape of their skulls,
            length of their tongues
            and complexity of their relationships
            screams for a language
            not a single word has been retained.

            The archeologist tries to piece together the past,
            amazed that this tiny grave
            could hold so much flower pollen.
            There are many more flowers
            than could have blown into the cave of Shanidar
            with the wind;
            even during the most violent storms.
            The grains of pollen are all that remains
            of hollyhock, grape hyacinth, bachelor buttons, and groundsel-
            beautiful blossoms which faded into dust.
            All we can say for certain
            about this dead troglodyte,
            60,000 years after the fact,
            is that this short, squat, thick-skulled brute
            whose life was ruled by blade, blood, and butchering,
            was that someone loved him
            and loved him dearly
            enough to place beautiful flowers in his grave.

Gary Every, Arizona, USA

1 comment:

CMDoran said...

This is lovely...thank you