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Poem: Hobbit

Books & Poetry

The Indonesian island of Flores and its fascinating archaeological discovery are the inspiration for this week’s Poet’s Corner imaginings from writer Jan Napier.

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Hobbit

After the discovery of Homo Floresiensis
on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004.
The type specimen was called ‘Hobbit’.

Clouds ago upon the isle of flowers
a hobbit lived in a hole, not one with silver
teaspoons and scones for morning tea, but a great cave
frilled by a stream bright with fishlings too swift to catch;
a cave where bats hung like shaggy stalactites
from a limestone roof, and where for more years
than the rocks own, families crouched around a hearth,
flaking flint blades and scraping hides.

In the jungle oliphaunts tusked up trees while dragons∗
with deadly breath stalked and fought. The clan snatched
scraps when all that moved was moonlight; filched millet
from tribes nearby who hid smiles behind hands
when tiny guests gobbled pumpkin rind plates, chided
when they hic-hicced to sick after gulping palm wine.
Warm shone the sun, soft fell the rain and all was green.

But because to hunger is to want and because
blood runs like some dark melody through old tales,
there was a wandering tot, a hunter meatless.
Once chanced upon, the child was lost. Later a mob
thundered nightlong, red eye of fire furious
before the cave. No smoke wisped blue, when in cold ash
a set of footprints headed unsteadily North.

At the last then, only strands of remembrance
tattered as storm torn leaves; scraps of legend told
by elders recalling a mother’s mourning
down the ages, all evidence of verity buried
under millennia slipping like sleep over bones
so slimsy that at first not even their finders
could quite believe them real.

∗ Stegadons and Komodo Dragons were contemporary with the ‘Hobbits’.

Jan Napier is a Western Australian poet and short story writer whose work won the Creatrix online journal’s 2014 prize for poetry. Her writing has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas. She was a reviewer for online Antipodean SF from 2009 to 2012, and her poetry collection ‘Thylacine’ (Regime Books) was launched in September 2015.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to poetscorner@solsticemedia.com.au. Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

 

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