Cave Paintings

We began consuming the world in just the last few moments.
Starting about the time History began,
When we started writing.

We had been drawing on the walls,
Choosing durable media, making images
In a human language we all comprehend.

To a hummingbird air is water. Literature compresses time.
The thundering herds drawn in soot had been real,
Living, snorting buffaloes, galloping along an unseen dimension.

When we began to name everything,
As we pronounced each new sound,
That name replaced the thing-in-itself.

They became petrified representations,
As did everything humans touched,
Even with only a glance.

Freeze-framing everything into words,
Everything leaps into motion for us,
Even as it turns to stone.

Now immobility is violent motion, and death is life.
Now we can’t make anything disappear,
Or to keep what we really needed.

The great herds are to be seen only on the walls now,
Eternally in mid-stride, their essence abstracted,
Their thunder attenuated to infinity.

┬ęCopyright 2020 Peter Barus