Michael Cadnum is the author of thirty-eight books, including the National Book Award finalist The Book of the Lion. Several of Cadnum’s books have been released as audio books by Audible, and Open Road has published e-book editions of many of his classic thrillers. His most recent books are Earthquake Murder: short fiction, and a book of animal poetry titled Kingdom. A new book of poems, The Promised Rain, is in-progress. He lives in Albany, California.
Follow him on Twitter @MichaelCadnum.
The story is not long.
The wounded animal turns
stumbling over the spears already
thrust into the red future, flint points
puncturing the dawn to come
and the end is one heartbeat, two,
no more. The land is wide and made of stone.
The horizon is unseen, but also stone. The delighted,
fearful cheers, too, are grain
beside grain of limestone.
The almost sundered bison,
extinct auroch, horned survivor’s
forelegs are giving in with the freshly
stubborn not-yet. Not yet.
It will not be long.
But the telling.
The telling is all
the rest of the evening we know
without seeing, bay trees and streams
of jasper and jade rolled down from
the silent summit into vowels.
Ocher and charcoal
marshal the hungry, and command them
endlessly into a team, the account
never ceasing as breath never
ceases but continues
the loop in and out as long
as there is a pulse,
the hunters poised
beside the handprint,
the celebrant signature blood-
telling wound that always
Cave Painting appeared originally in Commonweal Magazine