from the Cave Painting

by Andrew Bailey

Forgive the shoddy crafting – I have little time, here too the new have come,
their plates of clay, their tiny tools, their zeal to show us how. Too many
learn these marks that capture only sound, whose bison is two grunts,
two grunts, they will not feed on that. Remember where the language lies;

not in the words, but what they reach. Read this and recall;
will their sparrow-scratches bring rain, nurse crops from their husks,
bring fire from smoking hay? Will it last? It may be that language will sustain,
but I fear that we instead will pass, our hands the last to be language-stained.

If you read both language and their scritches do not read this; let the truth die
rather than be tamed to their spindling marks. If you believe, you can find us
in the cave in which the first mouth was first drawn, first drew breath.