An Afterlife of Stone

Issue SixIssue Six PoetryPoetry

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by Jenny Blackford

The lumpy wrinkled flesh
of some great ancient beast

a woolly mammoth
or elasmothere

lies mummified beside the Hume
near Gundagai.

She must have strayed here
so far south

on long-lost sunken land
or melted ice

and never found her way
back home.

Her body dried to rock
by endless sun and wind

spreads wide
across the plain.

Distant sheep are maggots
crawling on her lichened skin

their new-shorn fleece
the painful

almost-white of larvae
on raw meat.

She doesn’t seem
to mind.

Perhaps the warm
quiet company

of woolly beasts
however small

still comforts her
in the long

slow afterlife
of stone.

An Afterlife of Stone’ was first published in A Slow Combusting Hymn: Poetry from and about Newcastle and the Hunter Region, eds. Jean Kent and Kit Kelen (Association of Stories in Macau, 2014) and reprinted in Jenny’s 2017 collection The Loyalty of Chickens (Pitt Street Poetry, 2017).