Sarah Giragosian

Mammoth Resurrected

Before my birth, father was more than fossil;

            pickled in tundra, he still had his undercoat

                      of grizzle, teeth, and a knee broken

                                                and folded in

                                                tighter than a jack knife.


When they found him as perfect

            as the day the sinkhole swallowed him

                                                they dreamed me up.


            Am I extinct?

                                      No. Called back,

claimed the minds that made me,

            coaxing DNA from Father’s bones

                      and toying with Mother’s genome to invent a new sequence for me.


Poached from another eon

            and implanted in her womb,

            swaying in time with her elephant strides,

                              I grew from Mother’s coo and breakneck science.

My tusk-nubs scuffed her insides,

                                        outscaling her womb too soon

                                                  and stretching her belly cruelly.


And when I arrived late

            I knew that Mother,

                                                  who scraped her trunk against my hump

and raked her tongue through my wool,

            was mapping my flesh

                      like ancestral land.

                                She tested the length of me,

                                                              making touch memory.


Entrusted with my soft spots

                            and whimpers, baby dents

and outdated ridges, she, with elephant-tact,

had no choice but to love me,

            more grandaunt than offspring,

                      captor and taboo.

                                    I kept below the soft flaps of her breasts

                      and, in the first hungers of infancy,

                                    I drank in the millennial air—

choked on the seepage of benzene, mercury

            and the musk of men,

                      before my mouth found her teat.



“Mammoth Resurrected” first appeared in Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Spring 2017.