The Oldest Man-Made Object
in The British Museum
Beside the rooms where crowds admire
the ornamental clocks, the axe
of mottled ironstone, its top
worn smooth from constant use, its weight
spread out along its length, is what
we left behind in Creswell Cave;
our best Palaeolithic hi-tech
fifty thousand years ago.
Yet not the oldest man-made object
in The British Museum. Look here –
a chopping tool with scalloped edge,
the latest culinary gizmo
in the shops in Tanzania’s
ancient Olduvai Gorge
about two million years ago,
much older than the length of time
was ticked by all the clocks next door,
combined. And though a bit the worse
for wear, it still looks sharp enough
to take the finger off a careless chef.
All Those Thousand Souls
This poet never had a lump of shrapnel
wedged inside his head or sat bewildered
in the bombed-out wreckage of his home –
such devastations never known to him
he prays won’t be diminished by this poem
that carries so much grief it could explode,
eviscerate itself, leave empty slogans
twitching in their helplessness like bodies
strewn around a cratered market square.
He reads his poem aloud and all the lamed,
the halt, the maimed come crowding in around him,
families collaterally damaged,
whole communities destroyed by air-strikes,
all those thousand souls condemned to die
in Dhaka so that he might buy cheap clothes.
He vows to do the everything he can:
check High Street labels carefully, choose
Fairtrade products, compose angry poems.
Home an Hour
Out of hospital, I promised time
to offer up my thanks for readmission
to the marvellous: the mountains
drinking water from the skies,
the streams that spill down into rivers,
filling lakes and reservoirs
to splash into my kitchen sink.
Just home an hour and I begin
to worry about new water charges, am
again become immune to the miraculous.
Copyright © Eamonn Lynskey 2017