The Manchester Review
David Wagoner
Three poems
print view

The Oldest Human Structure
          --in Olduvai Gorge

Is a circle of broken stones,
and no one can say for sure
this is the groundwork
          of the first family shelter
          where they huddled close to each other
          night after night in hunger
and the naked fear of hunters
or whether hunters themselves
shouted and danced here
          and feasted once or more
          before moving away
          to another stony circle
and another and then dying
and being born again
before dying again. Yet each
          of these stones is light enough
          to be lifted, to be carried
          by two hands and put down
heavily by one human,
maybe some frightened dreamer
who didn’t know why he’d dreamed
          of putting these shapes together
          there in a strange new order
          that would endure forever.