Lullaby for a boy buried 7,500 years ago
at L’Anse Amour, Labrador
“Lay his fragile flute, my dears,
Safely wrapped in woven scraps,
Near his fingers, stilled at last.
Fever’s gone and peace returns,
Innocence replaces pain,
Once again my eyes can see
The buoyant youth, he left behind.”
Grief has frozen mother’s arms
About his body, cold as stone
Pushed and pulled by tidal waves.
Years of sea cold lullabies
Whispered in his salty ears,
Once his life had slipped away.
He’d been young, a traveler,
Loved companion at the hearth,
Where, one day, he took a bone,
The hollow shaft of some great gull
And whittled it into a flute.
Then wild music rocked the waves
And blew among the flocks of birds.
Great auks nested there, and terns
Spun in winds above the beach.
Out at sea the supple seals
Tossed their heads above the swell.
Winter, when the caribou
Stalked across the inland plains,
Drew men to the common hunt.
But in summer, houses here,
Built of stone and roofed with hide,
Opened to them ample seas.
They buried him above the strait,
Behind his grave, the well known hills,
Before him the unchanging sea.
Spears and harpoon, walrus tusk
Lie beside his slender bones,
Red paint, pendants and his flute.
His shade salutes all voyagers
Paddling past his tumulus.
And gulls still rise from racing waves
And cast their shadows on his grave.
(At L’Anse Amour, on the Labrador coast, archeologists uncovered the oldest known, elaborate burial found in North America. 7,500 years ago Maritime Archaic people dug this grave and built a mound for a thirteen year old family-member, who lies surrounded by gifts and personal treasures; red ochre and graphite, a mortar and pestle to grind them, spears made of caribou bone, a harpoon for hunting sea mammals, pendants, ivory decorations, and a bird bone flute.)