SELF PORTRAIT AS CAVELADY
Nameless volcanos vomit rock.
Can’t keep cave clean. Swarms
of striped flies invade at dusk, bats
catch too few. Tender feeling for
baby mammoth as we eat him.
Sudden juice-leak from my eyes.
I pet baby mammoth’s roasted
hide, unfold hairy ear-flap still
stuck to skull and whisper into it.
Later, take chips of burnt sticks,
spit, plus mammoth fat, mix
in cup of hand and use paste I
make to sketch young mammoth
on shadow wall. Make black hand-
prints too. Rub mammoth fat
on my old, cracked feet. Rub some
on scars. Gather fresh dry leaves
for sleep. Give baby chunk of tusk
to suck so he’ll shut up. His yowls
rile wolves, who pace and whine
just beyond the all-night fires.
AMY GERSTLER’s most recent books of poetry include Dearest Creature, Ghost Girl, Medicine, and Crown of Weeds. Her book of poems Bitter Angel received a National Book Critics’ Circle Award in 1991. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. These include The New Yorker, Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, several volumes of Best American Poetry, and The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry. She teaches at University of California at Irvine.
Read more by Amy Gerstler:
Many poems, audio and other pieces at The Poetry Foundation