Vernita Hall

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Vernita Hall

Chauvet Cave: Epiphany

            Deva — a god, divinity, nature spirit

Enter this mouth of stone in a limestone face
Weave through the dribbling tangle of
spangled white calcite teeth
Pray the tusked jaws do not clamp
closed and crush you to song
while you are here

Seeker, call me Deva
that spits fire and laughter, guile and ice
Bring your deer-drunk full bellies,
incense of tallow, tentative bone-notched flute
Crush red ochre and hematite to
powder, scorch Scotch pine to charcoal stubs

Draw with those blackened bones: woolly rhino,
mammoth, lion, bison, antelope
Spark the red flower to dance brightly
In the conjuring torchlight as
sheer shadows shimmy, dream your question:
Why are we here?

Then let Deva swirl you into
a womb that never birthed you
gift you gods and glory through third eye
tickle your niggling newborn soul with
tongues of madness and faith
suckle you on blood and paradise

Praise Deva for second birth, for communion
with totems of horses, chalice of cave bear skull,
for ecstatic painter prayer, baptism in nacred tears
Bless these bones and the dust of bones      Remember
for tomorrow will have forgotten
when you were here

Vernita Hall reads “Chauvet Cave: Epiphany”

Vernita Hall  is the author of  Where William Walked: Poems About Philadelphia and Its People of Color, winner of the Willow Books Grand Prize and of the Robert Creeley Prize from Marsh Hawk Press; and  The Hitchhiking Robot Learns About Philadelphians, winner of the Moonstone Press Chapbook Contest. Her work has appeared in  American Poetry ReviewAfrican American ReviewAmerican Literary Review, and  Atlanta Review.