Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see – poem by Gabriel Griffin

Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see

the white and silent day shatter
in sound, little men catch up
with the herd of beasts and run
at them, shouting and beating

bones on hide drums, separating
a young one from the rest that
grunts and bellows while they
drive it towards and then over

the edge of a gorge. Swiftly
they climb down the cliff, clamber
over rocks, slid through the dead
beast sharp stones that hiss

cutting into tough hide, then carve
crimson and squelching flesh
into hunks they can carry back
to their women in the caves.

Sated, they stretch their legs
by a fire lit with dried punk, found
in young forests of silver birch
sprung new from the snow after

the great cold abated from
the frozen wasteland of ice that
had been their world for as long
as any had memory. Mammoth meat,

a strong taste in their mouths, bright
flames to keep away auroch, tiger, wolf,
bear. They tell of ice gods whose names
fall as snowflakes, of the swollen goddess

of birth and of death; carve from stones
figurines in her semblance, fashion flutes
from mammoth and vulture bones
and sing with no words to the soft piping.

Some venture far into the mystery, dare
darkness, hidden pits and the cave bear,
to paint their world on rock walls and ceilings:
horses that gallop over frozen lands, bulls pursued

by stick figures with spears, the shaman dancing
with his headdress of horns. And we wonder:
did they know we would come? Did they
leave these for us? And, if so, why?

Sometimes, in the snow, I think I see by Gabriel Griffin was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017) judged by Abegail Morley.