I’ve loved you from the beginning,
With the simplest of gestures;
With inarticulate cries,
With unselfconscious mimicry.
I’ve loved you since the first fire-wielding,
When we yelled together at encircling beasts,
Feasted on fire-roasted insects and nuts;
Huddle around the flames in awe.
Was that Eden, that long-ago aeon;
As the hand formed and the inner eye,
The larynx and Broca’s brain;
Before ever we sang to one another?
Or was Eden the time of hand-axes,
As all this came together
In our hearths and hunting,
From old Andalusia to the Chinese rivers?
What years those were of wide exploring!
Eurasia was ours with new spears!
Exulting in our uncanny craft,
We wondered at what we were.
Our long days fell like forest leaves;
They endured like ever-greens.
Our fire-circles lit the long nights;
Changing our dreams.
Were those shimmering years,
Those many hundred millennia,
Before our love made music,
Truly our Golden Age?
Did you feel loved then,
As the wide seas rose and fell;
As the ice advanced and retreated;
As the giant forests shifted, again and again?
Or was it only later, only later
That sentiment came and crooning;
Coaxed by oxytocin out of the flicker
Of long light under the waxing Moon?
Was I a caricature, to your mind,
Of all that was possible – possible –
For a singing hominid under the Sun?
Was I stone in need of shaping?
Ah! We buried each other many times,
Again and again, with grief and ochre,
Over ages under the ageless stars,
From Jebel Qafzeh to Beringia.
Remember the times, sheltered from
The harsh climate shift in the north,
When we relished our little piece of Africa
In Andalusia? Those idyllic coasts and caves?
But your love transformed me:
Your call for songs and stories;
Your playing to me on bone flutes;
Your vivid arts of changing forms.
We shook the shackles of the ancient trees,
Hailed the Sky god with high hands;
We took to the open horizon;
Pitched bold camp on the stark steppe.
There, at last, you carved me into shape!
Your love cut antler into a figurine;
And I, deer hunter, roamed forth Gravettian,
Making long lasting legends on the plains.
You wove me a coat of wool,
Dyed in wondrous new colours;
Finer than any cured skin and
I revelled in your home-spun beauty.
Even that was a long age of ardour
Under the high wheeling stars;
Rich with rumour of far mountains,
With mammoth hunts and possibilities.
Then the revolution came, at last: the Wheel;
The mastery and mustering of horses,
The making of wains and war-chariots,
The being of bright, burnished bronze.
Ah, Sky gods! The Wheel and the horse
Brought an end to our long cycles!
Ah! My lover with golden hair,
The Wheel set us rolling, riding, racing
In the chariot of the Sun, did it not?
Since then, everything has gone in a flash:
A riotous blur of songs and innovations;
A nightmare of blood and terror.
I’ve loved you from the beginning.
Let’s not now go under the Wheel.
All our myths are confused.
I long only for your beauty.