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






In The Cactus Gallery, The Supposed Position Of The Artist Drawing A Little Red Bear, 4 M (Over 13 Feet) Up On The Right Wall
Chauvet, c. 31,000 BP

This is the steep, uncanny Sistine. Up the wet rock face
You inch. The torch pitches shadows

& lambent you balance on the thinnest of toeholds,
Body splayed,
                       a huge precarious h.

The nails of your left hand rake the calcite,
Leaving the right to summon the bear—

Muzzle, hanging lower lip, the ears’
Red disks, blotched like lipstick traces.

You sway; your tendons twist & ache.
You add two curled hairs beneath the jaw.

The spirit realm quickens as you draw
The she-bear
                      wakening to your scent. She shakes

Her vast head, snarls & meets your eyes.
Hold your tranced hand steady
                                                  & return her gaze.

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