Autumn Early Light at Chauvet

Retire to the cave.
Try to match the flicker of mortal torch
to the flicker of the torch behind your eyes.

See. Touch what scares you so badly.
Or, since you cannot know,
choose an image.






That aurochs.
Her honed horns. Her
unendurable force of

muscle, hoof, neck muscles rigid
against her spine’s angry bone. Projectile of thunder.
It is the cave, the beast, and inside it all

what you may perceive as you—and death. Elect
to jump somewhere in the confines
of the darkness and binding rock.

Or elect to face the animal and die.
30017 was a bad year, run of seasons
an election of fears you are well evolved from.

30016 will be a better year. Light up
the cave then and let shine out the new. The rising
fire of your torch ignites the eye of the aurochs

and she elects to move.

• Image from Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.