Amy Gerstler



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