In June,
when the air was wet
but the nights still cool,
my father would take us
up into the mountains
before dawn.

He followed a worn and tattered
map drawn by my grandfather
before I was born,
seeking out places untread
since the time of giants.

In shaded valleys,
we would wade up
river canyon corridors
and thread through
tight knit groves
of elm and poplar;
there, the four of us together
would hunt for buried treasure.

In unlit caves
and soft stream beds,
you might find some there still
a massive curved and ancient tusk
jutting out of the fresh spring mud
or a mammoth skull as big as a little brother.

More valuable still
were the rhino horns
pulled from the bank
of snowmelt lakes:
Better than gold
my father would say,
because their value never changed.

And at night, in tent by lantern’s light,
my brothers and I would sketch
the animals whose bones we found
and imagine what they had looked like,
and wonder together if one day,
some strange creature would seek our skulls
amongst the summer umbrage,
to grind and sell as medicine
in some far distant place.
Zetetic separator

Mack W. Mani is  is an American poet and author. His work has appeared in various magazines including Neon, NewMyths, and The Pedestal Magazine. He currently lives in Portland OR.

Leave a Reply