Song for the Woolly Mammoth
By Lauren Moseley
When glaciers trapped a third of Earth’s water and drained the Bering Strait, humans
journeyed to this land where wind swept the steppes of snow, exposing grass
that would be plucked by mammoth trunks and ground by washboard teeth.
Up to thirteen feet, their tusks curved helically and would intertwine if they went on
a little longer. The beasts’ dense hair—brown, blonde, or ginger—swung like a skirt
about their flanks. I want to rest my head against that shaggy coat, to crane
my ears, to be protected from the giant short-faced bear. I want to be
their baby, wrap my trunk around my mother’s, watch the wild horses of Beringia
canter across the steppes in tawny, fine-boned movements. The thick fat
under my hair keeps me warm when the sun goes low, and I grow into
an eight-ton bull, pierce the ice with my tusks and drink from glacial pools.
The wind is bitter, but my strongest features have grown bigger than my father’s.
When summer comes I must find a mate, and it only takes a few tusk locks to show
my strength. After our calf is born, I see upright creatures eyeing him from the mesa.
I will fling them against the icy mountains. They wear our hair as if it were
their skin. Still, I will live through many winters, through each warm season’s
hardheaded matches. I know the range that slopes like the hump on my back, sunsets
redder than the long-toothed cat’s gorging mouth, how musk oxen form a wall of horns
and still fall prey to the blade thrown. I know how many herds have fled, and the curves
of carcasses stripped to bone by men, wind, and time. I do not know that I am gone.
Wednesday was less blustery than Tuesday and looked like fall, though it was practically shorts weather by afternoon. I finished up my scanning project, talked to my high school friends on Google Meet at lunchtime, talked to niece on the phone for an hour, and in the late afternoon Paul and I took a walk at Locust Grove to see whether the maples were as red as they were last year, though we seem to be a little behind (no complaints, I love when fall color extends well beyond Halloween).
We stopped at Giant for taco sauce so we could have tacos for dinner. I could only stand a few minutes of the Astros-Braves game, so we watched the season finale of Fantasy Island (mindless and enjoyable, like the original, with momentary Ricardo Montalban cameo), then we watched the first couple of episodes of the third season of the BBC's Ghosts (very fun and reasonably clever). Here's how pretty the woods looked with trees down from the wind and a frog in the little pond: