“Scientists discover Neanderthal skeleton that hints at flower burial”
—The Guardian, 18 February 2020
At first—for a long time, actually—
they brought flowers, talked to me
from my graveside, said they missed
me and all of that, and they were
sincere, I think, but then one day
I noticed that their visits had stopped.
Why, I don’t know, the view from here
being rather limited. Maybe some
cataclysm wiped them out at once,
all the Neanderthals, though we never
thought of ourselves that way, of course;
we were just people like everyone else.
Or maybe some ferocious predators
devoured our village, or maybe it was
a slower phenomenon, gradually
dying out from natural causes
until no one who knew me was left—
it’s so hard to gauge the time. Perhaps
they just evolved and lost interest,
or maybe a long cold spell killed
off the flowers so that there was
nothing to bring and no point in coming.
It did get lonely after a while, though,
what with never going out and never
having visitors, and the options are
limited for eternal souls separated
from their bodies before they had
religions to misdirect them. Anyway,
another day, another eternity, it doesn’t
really matter, or at least it didn’t until
I heard the scrape of tools, steel ones,
modern, not the old-school implements
I used when I walked above ground.
Have my people returned, better equipped,
I wonder, or have curious strangers
come to pay their awkward respects?
Either way, I hope they’ve brought
flowers, because I have missed the flowers.
T. Allen Culpepper