nineteen millennia ago
Behind the great hall of the bulls
hidden in a small recess
a woman used moss, colored ochre,
sticks of charcoal to send a herd
of spotted horses galloping across a wall.
Working in a flicker of light, the artist
traced a curve with a shaved, chalky twig,
filled in with a paste of charcoal
and two kinds of hard, dark earth.
She ground red ochre to a powder
with mortar and pestle,
picked up a hollow bone, spit
then blew, mouth filled with bitter taste,
using her hand so thick lines of colour
could meet without blurring, horses dappled
by stenciled dots and fingerprints dipped in paint.
Always in motion these ponies thunder
across the rock face, fresh as if just drawn.
I think I hear them snort and gnar,
feel their grassy breath,
or someone blowing pigment in the dark.
Was the painter surprised by what emerged?
Would she be amazed to know they are still here,
cantering in the dark, in the dawn?
Mary Kay Rummel
Mary Kay Rummel was Poet Laureate of Ventura County, California from 2014-16.
Her seventh book of poetry, The Lifeline Trembles, won the Blue Light Poetry Prize. A new collection, Cypher Garden, has just been published by Blue Light Press. Her poems recently appear in Nimrod, Askew, The Ekphrastic Review, Miramar, Pirene’s Fountain, and AMORE: A Collection of Love Poems. She teaches at California State University, Channel Islands and lives in Ventura and Minneapolis.
The Ekphrastic Review
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