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Friday, 13 April 2012

Leaving it behind


When we the last man
homo sapiens
lies fossilised
and part exposed
on some brown hillside
in some upheaval of this crusty earth,
what patient palaeontologist
will be scraping at our bones
removing every trace of stone
and dust to reconstruct us
as we were
and carbonate of soda-blowing us
to some new clarity?
(It's now we need the clarity.)

What shall we have become?
Beyond the next extinction  maybe -
who or what will our replacement be?
(For evolution surely will go on.)

One palaeontologist believes
a rodent form comes hot upon our heels
to carry forward what we've left
of our brave world.

Imagine now: the child who would become
Professor Jenny Clark
is leafing through an illustrated book
called Prehistoric Animals:
a kind of magic is at work, she's listening
to the slow sounds
of the Shostakovich Fifth.
She sees and hears
the silent world
in perfect fits
of sound and images. She is
imagining a world
that is not hers. No animals
are here with vocal chords
or feet to crush the undergrowth,
nor any here with ears to hear the silence.
Only the wind and rustlings of leaves
would have been there for ears to hear
when lizard grew to newt and salamander.

Music and a  poetry of thought
brought forth the palaeontologist to be.

For what the lines are worth
I'm guessing our successor
will go back to the sea
(It's cooler there;
takes longer to warm up),
but not before, maybe,
he/we have given evolution's ass a kick
manipulating D.N.A. - that sort of thing
to fit ourself/itself
with double vision (light and infra red),
echo location (for transmission,
revelation, proclomation, navigation)
and reformed ourself/itself as spheres
(for better heat control). Perhaps
aquatic rodents armed with souls might fit the bill.

Written (after viewing the BBC film on Dr Jenny Clark - one of The Beautiful Minds series)  and for The dVerse Poets prompt Tripping the Cosmos

22 comments:

jabblog said...

Evolution doesn't always take the expected direction - as with the lizard. I often wonder how we will be discovered. I find myself uneasy with the disinterment of ancient graves.
Aquatic rodents with heightened powers sound more attractive than a world dominated by cockroaches.

kaykuala said...

These would be discoveries. Is it going to be similar to that of the Peking or Java Man. We'll be in bits and pieces unless they are lucky to unearth one of the myriads of time capsules. Then everything are given on a silver platter, no fun at all for them. Great write Dave!

Hank

Semaphore said...

A provocative opening in the future that deftly segues into matters of the present. One imagines a future National Geographics documentary filming such a scene, with your voice, the voice of this poem, as the Attenborough voice-over.

Daydreamertoo said...

Very interesting thoughts Dave. I too wonder what will be the next species at the top of the food chain once man has done away with himself.
Really enjoyed this read.

manicddaily said...

You have definitely tripped the cosmos here! I personally think if anything survives it will be something pretty primordial rather than evolved--let's say the cockroach!

(Ha.)

A lovely poem despite my disagreement on this point! The discussion of clarity--what we need and the bicarbonate of sodaing was especially memorable to me as was the picture of the young paleontologist. You always rise to the challenge. k.

Claudia said...

nice..this is very cool ...and carbonate of soda-blowing us to some new clarity... and esp. dug the last stanza with the text in parenthesis..nice...

Brian Miller said...

haha i love this dave...i think we will begin to muck in our dna and in that maybe start the process back to the dawn of man and maybe we will crawl once more out of our own promordal muck and start the whole thing over again...

Mary said...

What interesting speculations here!

Brendan said...

It's a great exercise for the imagination, trying to see a million years into this planet's (and ecosphere's) evolution -- really just a toot in star-time, but enough to leave little traces of what we humans eventually became. Since we can't very well think of things on Earth after we're personally gone (ego ergo I love me), it's a stretch to peer that far, though you raise all the right questions. I've always thought I was a sort of aquatic rodent, nosing around the bottom of the sea's silos for this or that bit of poetic chow. Dunno if that makes me forward-thinking, or merely hungry. - Brendan

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Awesome write, David! I often ponder the finding of our remains by that far-in-the-future civilization. I think of all the odd things we do and create, and imagine the confusion and bafflement those things might bring to the finder of them.

aprille said...

Will we beat the Mammoths for interest?
Unsettling thoughts.

Kat Mortensen said...

That sounds like a series my husband and I would enjoy. We'll have to hope it lands over here sometime.

My favourite lines were these:

"a rodent form comes hot upon our heels
to carry forward what we've left
of our brave world."

(These, are among many fantastic others.)

This made me think of J.G. Ballard's book, "Drowned World".
Your poem is a real mind-prodder.

Beachanny said...

I think about this stuff sometimes. I have seen a few episodes but sadly missed this one. I'm sure there are species already developed or yet to be which could survive any disaster natural or man made that could wipe out this period of domination by the smaller apes. A very poetic rumination here!

Other Mary said...

Spectacular Dave. I've been away for too long and forgot how wonderfully you write. I would say your poem has a very intelligent design, but that would just be silly. ;-)
Seriously though, I admire your writing.

Heaven said...

"Perhaps
aquatic rodents armed with souls might fit the bill." Perhaps it might. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on our evolution Dave ~

Windsmoke. said...

I reckon evolution is random and unpredictable unless interfered with by man :-).

Charles Miller said...

I really like this, not only reflectong on what humans might become, given some catastrophe perhaps, but also what have become, here and now. This power of double reflection, visiting the future, so to speak, to help form the present is that power of remolding ourselves that we perhaps squander too readily, too greedily. Excellent poem.

Dulcina said...

Very interesting poem, Dave. I have enjoyed it a lot.
Evolution or involution?
I think man is not sapiens yet: if he were, things would be different. He thinks, but usually in the wrong way. Technology has advanced at the same speed as stupidity. Instead of progressing, we are going backwards in many aspects of human life.
Scientists only know about a tiny part of our Universe - there are more, maybe infinite ones - but they speak as if they knew a lot.
Maybe your aquatic rodents armed with souls could behave more rationally than we do.
My idea is that our successors will live in Mars after the Earth has been destroyed by human ignorance.
Ecologists try to take care of our planet, but the Earth is much-much-much older and wiser than us.
Huxley's brave new world is falling like the Roman Empire due to greed and selfishness.
Hope young people can find a better way than ours towards real progress.
...we have given evolution's ass a kick manipulating D.N.A., yes!
Dave, I only know that I know nothing.
:)

The Elephant's Child said...

Since the bet cannot be collected, I would put money on some form of cockroach. Or perhaps a spider. Ants too live in some truly inhospitable environments.

Dave King said...

jabblog
I share your unease with the fashion for disinterment, usually quite unnecessary. My thanks for your response.

kaykuala
Time capsules! Never thought of those - but perhaps that's what man is!

Semaphore
Like it - but doubt whether Attenborough would be available! Thanks, though.

Daydreamertoo
For me, just the thought that man has not finished evolving is frightening enough!

manicddaily
I can't shake off this pesky optimism I'm saddled with. I think it will be something that creation's holding up its sleeve just now! - Or man is!

Claudia
Pleasing to know this: not for the first time you've picked on bits with which I was more or less happy.

Brian
I think if it's us you may be correct, but I'm inclined to think it will be that which comes after...

Mary
Good to know you think so. Thanks for saying.

Brendan
Oh, I do so go for your last three lines. I could be really happy with that thought. Thanks for it.

Marbles in my Pocket
Yes, I can see that clearly enough. What a canundrum for them!

aprille
Do you know, I think we just might!

Kat
I'm sure you would enjoy it. We have just started on the second series. The first was quite short 4 or 6 minds, something in that order, all totally fascinating.

Beachanny
Fascinating, both for what she has discovered and how she got to be where she is - not a brilliant scholar to begin with, looked down upon by the cream of academia, etc ,e tc.

Other Mary
Really good to have you back. Thank you for your kind words.

Heaven
Thanks for this. yes, I am waming more and more to the idea!

Windsmoke
I'm sure it's even more so when interfered with by man - if you believe in the existence of random, that is!

Charles
I like your thinking. Thanks very much for it.

Dulcina
what a wonderful comment. I felt myself saying "Amen" all the way through. The last sentence ecapsulates the wisdom that went before.

The Elephant's Child
Ha! A gambler after my own heart! But i think I'll stick with the water. Thanks for the sharing.

James Rainsford said...

An intelligent and perceptive realisation of the inexorable power of evolution's inevitable progress. I enjoyed this a great deal. Thanks for sharing.

ds said...

Rodents armed with souls. A lot in that. A lot in the whole poem. Thank you for this (I can't add to anything that has gone before)--well and intelligently wrought.