With all they had to worry about, Neanderthals
probably never gave a thought to tetanus.
Some probably wore primitive shoes
that were not wingtips.
There were no shards of glass or rusty tin cans
under the post-pterodactyl sky.
If one of the primitives contracted
the disease from a sharp tool he’d made,
he might soon have double-X eyelids.
One of them had to be the first
to die from it. Had to be the first to die
of something. That one brought
the birth of death to the species.
How long did it take the others to realize
he would never hunt or fish again?
What made them decide to bury the dead?
Was it the stench of a decaying body
or did they have spiritual beliefs?
Maybe we’ll start to understand
as our own kind fades
or a pandemic kills
somewhere in the neighborhood of
leaving us with useless iPhones
to be replaced by sticks and stones
in pursuit of fire.