THE MEN IN THE CAVE

THE MEN IN THE CAVE
Clark Kimball

The men in the cave
hang stalactite-like
at the dark mouth of the place,
recollecting their own lunacies
and considering, once again,
the words well-drummed
into the wise.

It is time now: the crimson, circled moon
is just right.

The boys are roughly roused.
Their heads are muddied vermillion;
their thighs and chests are mucked
with slick, smelly marrow.
Each is forced down onto his knees
and made to shoulder his way forward—
breeching the thick, tangled brush—
to enter into the moist, cavernous dream
of some earlier but yet-to-come passage.

Inside, a fire stick is drilled down,
twisted between reddened palms
and bloodied fingers,
into brittle bone, dried moss,
white ash and explosive dust.
Kindled smoke spirals upward
and probes the high, domed spot,
falls back again, calcite-like, hangs heavy
against the damp floor and walls,
catches, bursts into flame
and into shadow, too.

The men and boys are a stalagmite circle
casting silhouettes to the left—
to the way of the heart;
projecting images upward—
to the way of the moon.
The chamber vibrates and
echoes in response—
to the very beginnings and
back again—lunatics!

The initiatory words are drummed:
You are here in this place now—
in this place of your birth.
You will be here again later—
in this place of your death-to-come.

Always, your heart will force you
back to this place—to your knees—
in this dream of a cave beneath a moon—
to this womb, this home, this tomb—
to this lunacy!

Leave it, love it, fear it, but return—
to this passage of the women’s red blood,
which is ever gladly, sadly given
to the men in the cave.
Consider this! Be wise!

for Kate O’Connor Asheville –
Autumnal Equinox 2010

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