A dark poem for dark February days:
I sit alone with the dark gods in the dark cave and wait.
My chanting joins with others, the unseen ones.
Flames dance on the flat cave wall. I need to see
the pictures in my mind before I touch the paint.
Tonight I will paint the great bull, the one who sweeps
the sky with his horns and shakes the earth
with his feet, the one who carries my arrowhead
in the muscle of his hind leg. I will place
my red-earthed hand over him and tomorrow
his blood will be mine and the clan will feast.
Alone I paint mind-pictures on the wall
but at night all the men will come, every one
who has left his boy years and bears the man-mark,
the hunters and fighters, protectors of the family.
We will sip bitter juice and see the flames dance,
then up and stamp, jump and whirl, chant and
watch my pictures come alive and move, hear
the song of the gods and see tomorrow’s hunt.
We will feel the bull’s great bulk, see his chest heave,
hear his hooves like thunder in the ground.
But tomorrow he will be slowed, his flesh gnawed
by the grinding flint, and we will run him down.
Then we will shout and sing and weep in praise
for this great beast who ran and shook the earth,
who swung his horns and died standing, who now
will feed our children for days and our stories for years.
In the dark cave with its dark gods and painted wall
the unseen ones will wait for me to come again.