Elk Prints

The Harris Museum

I.
I lean down
to touch
them

like

an
ancient
huntress
taste

not
blood
but paint
still follow
the trail
of red

(do I detect the hint of a limp?)

up the stone steps
past paintings
depicting

your hunting
like the Stations
of the Cross

(watercolours)

those old old hunters
we will know as the Dwellers
in the Water Country

semi-amphibious
blue-limbed
against
the green
of the fenlands

(it is 11,500BC)

bows drawn back
like the grins
of wolves

the madman
with the axe who
severed your tendons

before you limped on
dripping red

your pain
sucked up by
the sedge

the last
shudder of
your thick skin
not enjoyed by midges
at mid-winter
in a pool.

II.
On the
second floor
in the Discovery Gallery

where your skeleton stands
beyond hunting trophy
beyond Messiah
beyond icon

I pause for breath imagining

flints tips against ribs
heaving lungs

the loneliness
of your
heart.

III.
When I press
the red button that blasts
out your roar

the city trembles

breathes in and breathes out

the paddle of a dug-out canoe
splashing a reminder
of aurochs, deer,
wolf, elk…

*With thanks to the Harris Museum for the images.

8 thoughts on “Elk Prints

  1. Ogden Fahey says:

    If you’re ever down Ipswich way, the museum there is well worth a visit, they have the biggest collection of taxidermy I ever saw, and displayed in the olde style Victorian cases (as well as some more interactive stuff) Sutton Hoo is down that way too but sadly when we were there is was closed for maintenance – great work Lorna, as ever – loved it!

  2. Greg Hill says:

    The Ancients of the World ….

    In relation to this and the previous post I think of David Jones’ “what is done out on the tundra … under species of paint” (exact words probably misremembered) but the idea that we can imaginatively re-create such animals and their environment, not only portraying the hunt in cave art, but also in a modern museum, is a testament to the power of the imagination.

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