“The Ice Man” by David Cavanagh

David Cavanagh


In 1991 he was found inside a glacier of the Alps. Seems he had been out walking. An x-ray found an arrowhead in his back. He was 5,300 years old.

If he had known his stroll by an alpine lake
would be his last, how the arrow 
from behind would thud into his daydream, 
how the lake would claim him, harden,

how anthropologists would pore over
his Neolithic self the way his own kin
hovered with stone knives over a kill,
ready to skin, dismember, eat …

If he were fast-tracked five millennia, 
would he say, what are you looking at,
what do you want to know, where fire 
comes from? Or, hey, where can I 

get some of those sneakers? Or, I am 
no source, I am an omen. The way one 
of us, blindsided, mangled by a muscle car 
running the light, might face the Maker 

calmly, nothing more to prove, might say, 
I don’t want in, just want you to know what
I’ve been through in case you want to learn 
something. You gods, such know-it-alls. 

Most of all, would he have wanted 
a word with his mate left that morning 
by a hearth? What tenderness, what worry 
might have furrowed that big brow?

from Rattle #44, Summer 2014

[download audio]


David Cavanagh: “I live in Burlington, Vermont, where I write poems, ride bicycles obsessively, run a degree completion program and teach at a state college. The writing of poems connects me with people (including myself), events, and the great puzzle of it all in a way that nothing else does. My hope is that the reader connects as well and joins the circle.” (website)

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