Tag Archives: Moscow

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.

Keys Keeper

Keys Keeper

I was in Moscow
with my Bible and my cross,
to say beneath icons
the Lord’s prayer for Russia’s loss,
loss of her freedom,
loss of the right of her faithful
to praise their Lord,
loss of her soul fire,
to pray for the cross to be restored.
With your Iron Curtain
and your missiles and your pain,
freed yourselves from serfdom,
only to find you are slaves again.
Your politics have changed now.
To him they worship,
the faithful ones can bow.
I pray for the Jews,
exiles from their holy land.
Remember their old ways,
their coloured tents upon the sand.
Give them their freedom,
give them their right to praise their Lord,
release their soul fire,
all souls that knew loss will be restored.

I was in Cairo,
somehow lost in a bazaar.
I was looking for something,
in the land of Isis and of Ra.
Over sand I stepped,
to stand inside the Great Pyramid in awe.
“To know its secrets,
you must first go through the maze,”
the keys keeper told me.
“And you must do this alone.”
So on my hands and knees I crawled,
along low, narrow shafts,
the darkness solid as the silence.
I could only breathe brokenly.
I can still smell that sand and stone.
A square hole in a wall
I found and fell through.
On the floor of the inner temple I sprawled.
A young priest in a white tunic stood over me.
“It is you,” he said.
“The stranger from the desert.
How did you come through?”
Then my vision faded.
I woke in the early morning,
knowing not what I knew.