Friday, 22 March 2013

a world before our world

The Lady Professor spends her life
working with the fossil bones of animals
and using them to reconstruct past climates:
wolves roaming the Somerset hills,
hippos swimming where Trafalgar Square is now,
woolly rhinoceros grazing in Staffordshire.

After she has been to the exhibition of Ice Age Art
at the British Museum
she shows me a replica carving,
small enough to hold in the palm of your hand,
and we wonder at it together.

It is an adult woolly mammoth
carved by someone who saw them wild,
who knew what colour they were,
how they moved, what they smelt like,
recognised the sounds of their calls.

We cannot know why the statue was carved
or much about the person who carved it
but it is the briefest glimpse, a pinpoint beam of light,
into a world before our world.

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