‘De-Extinction’ by Suzannah Evans


They re-animated the mammoth using ice-age DNA.
Its mother was an elephant surrogate
and this was hailed as such success
that someone suggested
we bring back everything we’ve ever lost
and so the dwindling glaciers renewed themselves
in the valleys like the puckered skin of scars

and the return of archaeopteryx became a worry
to livestock farmers worldwide
and outside the back door in his old hutch
was my childhood guinea-pig
squeaking out joy between mouthfuls of carrot.
Margaret Thatcher returned to power, as did Smilodon
sabre-toothed terror of the American grassland.

My ex-boyfriend moved back in, bringing
a suitcase of those lewd T-shirts I’d hated.
Beavers felled timber along the River Don
and the caucasian wisent ran from the asiatic lion
and there were people alive who had never seen a gun
and the moa returned to the Haast valley
and giant eagles hunted them from the trees.

In every ocean there were shoals of fish
so big that you could see them from the cliffs.
This town was a manufacturing town
and the next one was a mining town
and where we live now was nothing but fields
and one afternoon in the outback
Diprotodon surfaced in a billabong.

The mammoth grubbed up trees in the park
and people wound cassette tapes
excitedly forward and backwards using pencils
and the universe expanded from a single point
and the great bustard sat on Salisbury plain
looking like a fancy cushion
and no-one had had the idea for the film Jurassic Park.

Kids put down their dinosaur books
and went outside to see the real ones
while I gave it another go with the one
who got away, and he got away – again.
The mammoth started a family on the tundra
and an explorer leaned from the bow of a boat
towards the distant purple of an unknown coast.
Suzannah Evans lives in Sheffield and her pamphlet Confusion Species was published in 2012 as one of the winners of the Poetry Business Competition. She received a Northern Writers’ Award in 2013 and in 2015 was one of the Aldeburgh Eight. She has work published or forthcoming in Magma, The North, The Rialto, Poetry Review and The London Magazine. Twitter @suzannahevans