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Struck a pair of stones to start off. Left behind
ten men curled like scythes round the fire.
Left behind the bracing moon. Passed a pack
of ibex, passed the mammoth. Left the carious
canines before the rath, left the scapula—
freed space for petal dyes, for fixatives.
Passed (in a dream) Chauvet. Alsace. Lorraine.
Past the scree, past the wolf standing sentinel, her
mouth. Struck two stones to hearten the blaze,
sped up; pulled from the sack the manganese, the gilt
mixture of ochre and ore, the animal fat,
the deer bristle. The hare I speared fresh
for better reds. Mash of berries in a rolled frond.
Looked back—still breathing, still lone, set
bone to the bare wall: summoned up the aurochs
in a dervish turn, flank hot with lashes, all hot with dying and kneeling
down. Then nothing. Then the quiet
credit of our kind.
Source: Poetry (November 2009)