a paleolithic winter’s tale
Wind rises, the sun is pale;
Leaves go brilliant and finally pall;
Wise creatures burrow deep
seeking the peace and safety of sleep
and the snow begins to fall…
The People see the summer fail
and gather closer to the fire;
Meat is smoked against the days
when going to hunt no longer pays:
The blue smoke rises ever higher.
Winter is deep in drifts, and dark:
Hunger grows but meat is gone.
Around the fire, the People are dying
gnawed by darkness and hunger, crying
The oldest, the youngest, one by one.
Under thin light of the sun’s shallow arc,
in the day’s still-decreasing length
the last of the hunters seeks a track.
Empty-handed, he can’t turn back
For this is the very last of his strength.
Miles away from hearth and Clan,
an old stag stands at the edge of sight
Gaunt and weak as the one who stalks,
the animal stumbles as it walks–
He pursues it into the night…
Predator, Prey; Wild Animal, Man–
the Hunter takes the old stag’s life.
He cuts and skins in the light of the moon
and knows he cannot return too soon
For the sake of his child and wife.
The Hunter sings to the animal soul
its sacrifice he thanks and praises–
with gratitude balancing need to kill–
then finally descends the distant hill:
Towards home a hopeful eye raises.
Under new snow, his own track is cold,
he’s not certain of every turning–
But flame is a beacon in the night
to desperate Hunter, a beckoning light
where the Clan’s hearth-fire is burning…
The People welcome the Hunter home,
with smiles and songs, they greet him.
They shut the howling weather outside,
and relish the hope one hunt can provide,
that Winter will not yet defeat them.