Embers

For forty thousand generations
we stirred the embers
of a low fire,

kept the audible prowlings
of the huge night
at bay.

A small tribe,
we looked up at the stars,
and the spaces between the stars,

tracked the transits
and transformations
of the moon, counted five wanderers,

As chert or clay came to our hands,
words came to us,
and we built them into stories

nested in stories,
tool kits for making memory
into myth,

to tell the children,
to tell the children,
to tell the children

how to compact the whole life of our tribe,
a small tribe,
into a bundle of words and pictures

small enough to carry
inside the head of an elder,

but enough
to survive a long trek,
and feed the whole tribe,

by the low fire,
in the great dark,
under a starry sky,

give us meaning,
give us meaning
give us the meaning.

by which we mean to survive.

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