“Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female.” — National Geographic, October 9, 2013
The cave paintings, you see, were rare features
composed over time. Perhaps two hundred
paintings went to walls in ten thousand years.
Each generation a woman ochered
bison, or horses, a rhinoceros,
a bear, dark wooly mammoth that lingered
as visions of hoof and horn, auspicious
promises of life, meat, hide and marrow,
imagery of sustenance, delicious.
Memories and dreams lit by burned tallow,
were flickering visions crawled into earth
pushing light ahead of her to follow.
A contemplation of walls and the girth
of her infant world’s deep uterine heart
commenced, without sun or moon cycles, dearth
of motion or sound but rhythm’s of art,
slow breathing and blood throbbing in her ears.
Then anima rose on limestone rampart.
So her people’s memories survived years
signed in stone registers’ silhouetted
hands, small in size, but with wide spread fingers.
Tim Pfau is a retired EMT, Auditor and Union Organizer who now watches grandchildren and tells stories in Salem, Oregon. A former Board Member of the Oregon Poetry Association, his poems have appeared in journals, newspapers, anthologies, radio and mixed-media shows. “Salem” means “peace” and sometimes, it is so. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org .