Suellen Wedmore, “The Iceman Cometh”

Erica Mumford Prize, selected by Moira Linehan
Winning Poet: Suellen Wedmore, “The Iceman Cometh”


The Iceman Cometh
          ─after visiting the Iceman Exhibit at the Museum of Archeology,
Bolzano, Italy

Ötzi: Freeze-dried & copper-skinned,
          you played hard-to-get in a prehistoric
hide and seek, waiting five thousand years

          to be found, head thrust out of a glacier’s
warming, an arrowhead buried in your shoulder,
          eye sockets empty, left arm awry.

Pulled from ice, we greet you, frost-
          cacooned behind museum glass,
fingers curved as if for a long nap.

          Born before the pyramids rose at Giza,
before Stonehenge circled Salisbury Plain,
          I try to imagine you in your prime–

making love, crying, singing,
          all those things that make us human;
(mankind ingenious, even then

          judging from your fine-stitched coat,
your leggings of supple goatskin).
          You carried necessaries unavailable

to us now, even schooled
          as we are, industrialized, computerized:
you fashioned arrows from viburnum limbs,

          built a fire each night from embers
nestled in leaves in a birch bark urn,
          and sewn by an agile hand

with lime tree bast. They gave you a name
          to make you seem more human,
though your shoes did this for me—hay

          tucked around your feet with netting,
a leather strip across the sole for grip,
          grit for a hostile world.


Suellen Wedmore
Poet Laureate emerita for Rockport, Massachusetts, Suellen Wedmore has published three chapbooks: Deployed, published by Grayson Books, On Marriage and Other Parallel Universes, published by Finishing Line Press, and Mind the Light, published by Quill’s Edge Press. In 2004 she graduated from New England College with an MA in poetry.