Cathey Smith Bowers’ “Paleolithic”

While waiting for the snow that still hasn’t truly arrived, I finished reading Cathy Smith Bowers’ debut collection The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas. This book was first published by Texas Tech University Press in 1992 and later reprinted by Iris Press. There are so many memorable and beautiful poems in this book, but I thought I’d share the very first one from the collection. First poems in collections have a heavy burden to speak to the overall theme of the book while also drawing the reader in. This first poem, “Paleolithic,” does all of that and more.


We love these old caves—Lascaux,
Altamira—and walk carefully
the way we always enter the past,
our hands bearing
the artificial light of this world.

We imagine those first hunters
crouched, conjuring luck,
carving into rock-swell
their simple art—whole herds of bison,
the haunches, the powerful heads, floating
orderless along the walls.
And some are climbing sky
as if they were stars, planets
orbiting something they cannot see.
Centuries will pass before they
right themselves, their hooves
coming down on to the deep
wet floor of leaf-fall.
Remembering where it was
they were headed.

2 thoughts on “Cathey Smith Bowers’ “Paleolithic”

  1. Thanks for refreshing my memory about this poem, which I do admire. Cathy Smith Bowers’s poetry always grabs me and her book, THE ABIDING IMAGE, part memoir and part poetry craft primer, is definitely worth reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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