Saturday, September 12, 2009

The marks upon the bone

The untrammelled world awaits our care,
when all that we believe is ours has gone,
as well it might be from the usurpers
of Her state, nature will return to us
our yearning bodies and soul's lost estate.

Stooping, at last, to drink from some clear pool,
a glimpse of self as other is dispersed
by oscillation and impatient thirst,
giving way to that incessant need to
find the shortest path to satiety.

No time for idle play, while hunger drives,
to contemplate the rippling of the waves
left behind as you leap after the band,
pursuing its scampering prey, for soon
the night will cut short the brief hunt for life.

Then, in the darkness of the cave will come
memory, replaying the stored pictures
of the tiresome day of blood and death
until later sleep mixes world and mind
into brief pleasure or some fearful bind.

See the flint scratches on the well-gnawed bone,
that may soon mark the passage of the moon,
and so time works its way from mouth to hand,
whose bloody imprint on the rocky wall
lifts up the butcher to shamanic rule.

Small means; flint, wood and bone lacked that power,
not stolen yet from gods unmade in clay,
or whispering their beguiling songs from
woods and streams, or in the dying screams
of that first oryx battered by the axe.

In the heat of day, hunched over a pile
of flint and stones, some brute hammered away
among the trees and swathes of drying hay,
amused by the occasional shower of sparks
spurting from the hard rock gripped in his hand.

Later, wild explanations would be found
for the forest fires and burnt creatures
on the ground, nicely roasted for a feast
and then, in due time, to be sacrificed
to imagined benefactors of the tribe.

But when well mastered this dangerous boon
roared its dire warning to those shrinking beasts,
who circled round the living space of man,
and rivalling the burning heat of noon,
defined a place for feasts called hearth and home.

Now, with all the elements gathered round,
wind, water, fire and earthy ground were theirs
to manipulate until the fifth was found,
lurking behind the eyes or pulsing
in the blood, sweat and tears of toil and lust.

Dead branches stark against the waxing Moon
define for man a triple space within
the brain, but to the wolf remain an eye
without a head, mysterious and cold,
calling forth mindless howling to the sky.

Relieved from the immediate needs of life,
the mind is freed to contemplate its fate,
an endless task mistaking signs for things,
reducing the world to marks on bone, wood,
papyrus or clicks on a mobile phone.

Dissipated into a mental cloud,
the world seems amenable to control:
a grand delusion that soon stubs its toe
on the first obstacle to the notion
that mankind is free in thought and motion.

Truer was the shaman's drumming dance,
mimicking the lupine prance and tripping
on the roots of chance to discover how new
paths are made through the labyrinthine caves,
across the rippled sands where Charon stands.

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