Cave Paintings

by Ken Harnisch

What was it? A hundred years ago
Maybe two
When they found those cave paintings
In France
And how we all rejoiced
To find our Cro-Magnon predecessors
Had the talent to depict their lives
That proved once and for all
We were not destined to be Neanderthals

Oh, the paintings were crude
And showed not much more than men with sticks and
Spears hunting down a mammoth or a mastodon;
And they were womanless, too
Presumably because the women
Were at home in other caves
Tending fires and cooking meat
And raising up the infants
Who even poets in time became

I painted you in watercolors;
Sometimes in oils;
In pen-and-ink,
And once or twice in chalk
You had a luminescence then
That I could capture with my brushes
But it faded soon enough and I was always glad
I never used pastels

Such frivolity had begun leaking
From my soul when I was five.
You made sure that all gaiety and
Fairy tales that would call for colors
Bright were extinguished before
I became too damned exuberant
Or accomplished with a brush

Now, sitting by a summer window
I wonder what future spelunkers
Might discover.
With their torches and hatchets
And fiery ambitions
Climbing into caves much deeper
Than the ones in France.

Could they, would they ever
With the progression of technology
Be able to climb into the caves of a
Battered heart? Could they, would
They ever look upon the beautiful-terrible
Images of loves both won and lost
And wonder to themselves
What new race of poets
Was born when brush at last
Touched wall?

Would such images be crude
Or beautiful? Would the painter
Be remembered as wise
Or just a fool?

Will we ever know?


Posted on 05/10/2013
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 05/10/13 at 11:35 PM

Or will their technologies only show that however deep they creep into our caves and only see the limitations to our creativity? Nice write.

Posted by Philip F De Pinto on 05/11/13 at 05:57 PM

I don't see why, those who stumble upon our caves can't think us both wise and foolish with no need either to reconcile. I think wisdom and foolishness have and will continue to abide in men simultaneously until men but an asterisk stamped upon this Earth. This fool is fortunate and wise to have stumbled upon this ode.

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