· SPRING /FALL 2013 | VOLUME 9 | ISSUE 1 ·

Rougarou, an online literary journal.

What Tribe?

Will Walker

From Lascaux, we see portraits of the animals:
lithe, nimble, spirited. Less often, the outlines
of the hands of the makers: ghosts of hands, fingers

spread, outlined in stippled pigment. Little sermons,
perhaps: anonymous makers, long since gone,
reaching out into the cave’s still,
dark future. And we reach back, press

into their prints — smaller palms, shorter fingers,
but undeniably the same evanescent flame of flesh,
asking the same questions: Who are you? What tribe?
What can you tell us? And why do we feel

the filigree of fingerprints pulsing
in the cold cave wall? If you listen
you can hear them breathe while they work,

spattering their fingers to make a mark and then carefully
lifting the blood-warm stencil, flexing cold fingers,
grasping a stuttering torch to find their way, step
by step, back to daylight and restless sky.