blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2009  Vol. 9. No. 2





Sixty-five Stenciled Hands, Forty-four In Black At the Furtherest
Reaches Of The Cave & Twenty-one Stenciled In Red On A Wall
Closer To The Entrance. The Most Common Position For Mutilated
Hands Is With Ring & Little Finger Held Down

Cosquer, c. 27,000 BP

First, go forth & find a reed through which to pour yourself.
Inhale, exhale. For days you have danced & chanted

Drinking only your own blood from a chalice
Spiked with belladonna, mushroom,
                                                          your clansmen’s spit.

Now ready your palette. The cheeks balloon. Exhale
& the mixture wreathes each finger. Your mouth & lips

Are red as hemorrhage. Down your chin it trails.
The taste of ochre surges & ebbs

Or the bitter synesthetic tang of charcoal
Darkens both mouth & torchlit wall.
                                                         Our selves’

Relentless shuttle—we are form & function, solo
& clan. The oldest of the women hefts

A child toward the ceiling. He bends two fingers down.
From his lips
                     the self flares out incarnadine.

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