Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Ivan the Mammoth Tusk Trader

Born in Siberia,
Ivan could cope with cold.
The green grass of summer
led him to the river,
not to fish or search for gold,
but to wade through water
for bony relics,
four thousand years old.

“It’s okay, it’s legal,
to be a mammoth tusk trader,”
Ivan told any strangers,
concerned about his occupation,
“for woolly mammoths are extinct,
have been for a long time in Siberia,
not like the elephants of India or Africa.
A mammoth tusk in good condition,
I sell to buyers in Japan or China.”

Siberian winter
drove Ivan to Moscow.
Like a bee in a hive,
he worked to stay alive,
cleared the roads in a snow plough.
Mammoth tusks he searched for
once more in summer,
knowing where and how.

He stands in the river,
waist high in rushing water,
wind in his face from the tundra,
scrapes stones at his feet with a pole,
Ivan the mammoth tusk trader,
stone age ivory merchant
to Japan and China.

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