“Indricotherium” from The Lost Animals


Largest mammal to walk. Lived in the Eocene.
Weight, 40,000 lbs. Length and height, 30 feet.

Though too large to exist anymore,
it still fits in our minds.

We imagine its footstep,
the span of our bed

in the crushed grass
as we walk through a meadow.

Perhaps we see its patched skin
in a boulder’s arrowed back,

its prickly ears
in the spiny-tailed thistle.

For somewhere in us,
wrapped in a molecule

like a thread twisted in a galaxy
behind a cell, a part of Indricotherium

persists. And all the lost animals,
the Dire Wolf, Saber Tooth, Giant Sloth,

numerous and bizarre,
having fallen from evolution’s boughs

still growl and roam
the forests within.

Now I look at your hair, tumbling red
as a volcanic sky down a cliff side,

flowing onto your shoulders,
and I think of the smooth savannas

before the continents changed,
before thick jungles were flattened

into alkaline seas.
This is when Indricotherium died,

his great body pressed
like a flower in a book,

then pulled from pages of rock
forty million years later,

sorted in fragments and glued,
part of earth’s alphabet,

its language of bone.
We look around the meadow

but there is no one but us,
lost as the animals.

With the ground’s scent
in our clothes, we listen

to the sound of oaks:
creaking and old, they lean,

barely touching,
skeletons bright in the rain.


Born in Vienna Austria in 1958, David Cazden received an Al Smith Individual Artist’s Fellowship for poetry from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2008, his home state for over 40 years. David began writing poetry as an engineering undergraduate at the University of Kentucky in the 1970s. Although he stopped writing for over twenty years, he began again in 1999. David worked as poetry editor for Miller’s Pond for six years. He has one book, Moving Picture (Word Press, 2005). His work has been published in various places, including Passages North, The Connecticut Review, Rattle, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. David’s poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology, and his recent work has received various honors (2nd place, Fugue’s Ron McFarland Poetry Award, finalist for Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Poetry Award). David is philanthropic in his local arts community and is currently co-editing the “Animals In The City” issue of the zine, qarrtsiluni. His book, The Lost Animals, was released from Sundress Publications in 2013.

You can purchase your copy of The Lost Animals here!


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