2 poems by Mark Granier


This Mammoth


is tiny

as a knuckle bone –– a nugget

of mammoth ivory


worked with a flint

in the midst of a hard

white world ––


a talisman, a charm

for you, child,

to clutch against

the ice nights ––


Things

that shiver and shake

your bones and the earth’s ––

Take


this syllable, strong

as any carved

by our tongue ––


Let it sing

in the cave

of your hand:


mammoth song

mammoth song

mammoth song ––



These Columns


of words

they say are the oldest

in the language. 


Ash 

Bark 

Black 


stacked

as if they were blocks

or books. 


Fire

Flow 

Give 


What I would. No.

Their power 

is in their stark

separateness.


Hand 

Hear

I


listen and pick them up

as if they were things

which they are.


Man 

Mother 

Not


They sit

apart

from each other

like any family.


Old 

Pull 

Spit


They have work

to do. They sweat.


That 

The 

This


They stutter.


We 

What 

Who


but stutter articulately.


Worm

You


Precisely.

I pick them up.

They are things.




*According to a 2013 study by the University of Redding

the above 23 ‘ultraconserved words’ are the oldest

in the English language, with ancestors dating back 15,000 years.


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Mark Granier's poems have been published in various outlets, including The New Statesman, The TLS, Magma, Poetry Review, Verse Daily and The Daily Poem. His fifth collection, Ghostlight: New & Selected Poems, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017.