Monday, May 26, 2008

Cave Paintings


There was the great dark lake to cross.
Our torches sparkled its surface,
Brought forgotten news of how the Sun
has made a habit of hide and seek.
We knew we were moving toward a prayer
That would be rediscovered some day.
We smelled of burnt fat
And only had words for the firm things.
Names had their own lives
that came to us like visitors.

One day this hunch began happening.
A seam of rock stirred into the curve
Of stallion back or spiral of ibex horn;
haunch of auroch grew from a bulge of rock.
We held in our hands
The charcoal from our hearth
And the powder of ochre and oxide.
Fixed with their blood and our saliva.

We stood in the big room
Until some of us began dreaming of them—
The shapes of the above-world,
The herds moving as one body,
The chase and graze and buck,
The gambol and slink,
The kill and dying gasp and first suck.

Then there was the first reach
Or the first blow through a tube
Toward the rough, scarcely breathing rock,
Which received the pigment
Through pores made of light.


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