NOR 19 #36: When We Were Neanderthals

By Chrys Tobey

Featured Art: Peacock in the Woods (study for book Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom) by Abbott Handerson Thayor & Richard S. Meryman

I hunted deer for you. I scratched your back with stone tools
and we swaddled each other in fur from sabre-tooth cats

and laughed as we said, burp me. We’d say things like, You know
what they say about a large cranium.
I’d chase a woolly mammoth

just because you thought it was sexy. We’d snort chamomile
and talk about how after we’re dead others will ponder our

big toes and our inability to ice-skate. When we were Neanderthals,
you’d make me necklaces of shell, and because this was a few years

before the Pill, we had a kid, but because this was also a few years
before the Catholic Church, we eventually mastered when to pull out.

When we were Neanderthals, we had no buses to take, no offices
to be at, no flights from Germany to wherever. I was never

lonely. You’d run and hide in the woods and I’d try to spot you.
We thought the stars were ours. We thought the earth was square.

We thought the sky was a song, and then the Homo sapiens came.


Chrys Tobey’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Minnesota review, Rattle, New Ohio Review, Ploughshares, Smartish Pace and The Cincinnati Review. Her poetry has also been featured in Verse Daily. Her first book of poetry, A Woman is a Woman is a Woman is a Woman, was published in 2017 from Steel Toe Books. Chrys lives and teaches in Portland, Oregon.

Originally published in Issue 19.

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