Cave of the Hands, et al.

Marci Rae Johnson

They couldn’t write so they drew themselves.
On the cave walls they drew their own bodies
and the bodies of the animals they killed,

which were also gods. They drew calcite spirits,
dancers black with bat excrement, hands
for holding power. The eye. The tooth.

Only the left hand, which could strike the right
cheek, leaving the other free for contemplation.
We also killed the god who came. In our paintings,

though, he looked like us. Fat baby, barefoot
child. A man with secrets. We killed him because
we were hungry. Because the other cheek refused.

Marci Rae Johnson teaches English at Valparaiso University. She is also the Poetry Editor for WordFarm press and The Cresset. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Redivider, The Curator, Books & Culture, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Louisville Review, Rock & Sling, The Other Journal, Relief, The Christian Century, and 32 Poems, among others. Her first collection of poetry won the Powder Horn Prize and will be published by Sage Hill Press later this year.