the painted beasts of lascaux
Their discovery has been a kind of homecoming, too.
Part of you has been here before, germinal, hidden.
A painted hand resting on the stone, a molecule,
a memory of muscled, brawling bulls entombed
deep within, their horns goring the darkness
locked in the rock of ages. These yellow ochre horses
were born too long before they could be anything
but horses, before they could be centaurs, before
they could be starships. Remember, these herds
are the same on these walls as they were in their fi elds,
the same as they are in your mind. Listen.
Their hoof beats trampling this ancestral earth
are still the drums that drive the song in your blood,
the abiding chant of the hundred billion dead
who came before you. Their distant voices vanished
into your voice, deepening it. Their song the song
that’s been snarled in your heart – breaking it,
trying to pound its way free – for your entire life.
Excerpted from The Reinvention of the Human Hand by Paul Vermeersch. Copyright © 2010 by Paul Vermeersch. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.