Dawn on the plain, and gray sky.
The grasses bend in light wind,
cold enough that breath is smoke,
and hands are cold.  Though skin
on legs and arms is chilled,
they stand still, a countless number,
at least three hundred.

They’ve come from shallow pits
in caves and under overhangs,
past the rocks laid down on top
of them with love.  The grave ochre
paints them, though bit by bit
it’s rubbing off.  They wear their best:
lustrous furs and soft leathers,
the finest workmanship in beads
and amulets.  They have their bags
of beautiful tools, sharp chipped stone,
fine pointed needles of bone.

Expectancy is in their eyes,
and ignorance of what will happen.
As sky lightens and the air softens,
they fill with hope, like the hope
for fatty meat, for living children,
for the warmth of fire, for the melt
of ice and snow in spring.
And children’s limbs ache to run.

A cloud-blurred light spreads
like the blessed magic of fire.
And they begin to drone
the beautiful song that they know.
Then, the clacking of stick on stick,
against their growing rumble.
A small crowd, happy.
The light spreads, shines brighter
than yellow sun, and yet they can see.