About the Author
The Christmas Journey
Passed My Hearing Test
Quis Est?
From a Bestiary
Two Sonnets for Alex
Hamlet Contemplates the
   Skull of Gabriel Edmund,
   Recently Born

Seeing My Son
Sailing to Kansas
Winter Trees

World Voices Home

The Literary Explorer
Writers on the Job
Books Forgotten
Thomas E. Kennedy
Walter Cummins
Web Del Sol


And God said: Let there be mammals, maybe.
And there appeared like dustballs in the shadows
shrews and voles and hedgehogs, or whatever,
sniffing tentatively. All were tiny;
some had whiskers; some had ears
as big as their heads. All were warm and furry,
drawn to each other's warmth, touching.
Some had bushy tails and crouched
on the highest limbs, picking insects
off each other. And the mammals held,
hugged and humped and squeezed their young out —
clamor, clamor! — who fixed themselves
on the source. And flowers opened
on dogwood and laurel, planetetherium glided
from limb to limb, marsupials waddled
with bags of babies. And there appeared
burrowing spots, nests and dens, a need
for tomorrow, a lively network of knowing.
And the mammals left the trees and shadows,
staying close, gophers, rabbits, moles
looking for holes, snarling things
with sharp-cusped teeth, lemurs looking
in three dimensions. And the waters rose,
volcanoes spouted, the air grew cool
and grasses spread. And the mammals hunkered together,
hunted together, shook with fever and chills,
grew fat and old: lumbering, horny brontops;
herds of horses; tapirs; rhinos;
long-necked camels munching on treetops;
otters slapping at fish; the great sloth
rising on its hind legs;
mastodons with swaying trunks, marching
over the land bridge. And as the chill breath
of the ice descended, things kept moving;
pines came down from the mountains, wolves in packs,
the solitary sabertooth,
bison, musk ox, babies prodded
and waited for. Some of the more
precocious and prehensile had a feeling
that was beyond them, made them nervous,
made them carve and scrape and seek out pigments,
made them dream. And now the mammal
looked to the stars, noting its nakedness,
its germs. It tried to fix itself.
The snow blew in its eyes. The body muttered,
grew erect like any predator.
It carved some more. The air grew warm;
the mammal found itself alone
in the wilderness. It would make kings.
Make death go blank. Make sprezzatura
and pundonor and Lebensraum.
And God said: Let there be space.

Published in Poetry Northwest, Winter 1984-85