The Boy from Viste
for Vistegutten 8,300 BCE, Norway
The cave will coat me in silt like campfire smoke;
particles dust me like pollen that sticks to a stalk.
I lean my forehead on here; my grooved skull fits
the rock wall’s hard flesh well – a fish to its trap.
My bone hooks have all broken; the storms blew
my shards away like feathers that float. I even lost
my striking stone that set swarms of fireflies to sit
brightly on my little nest of ferns & bite. The grey
waves took it when my back was turned. I’d set it
down on a stump to collect shells when the tide, it
snapped at my heels & I jumped. The polished grit
hid it from me like a brother; my best trade gone.
I’m calf-dumb & cannot get up. My belly is a cold
firepit where the sparks won’t flare. Hunger is an
ancestor who gets too close, a guide who turns its
back on my short stature. I sleep longer, a shadow
of a cliff that stretches out into the ocean. I can’t
feel where I begin as a boy & where I end at the
cave’s mouth. For days my guts & the salt breakers
churn with the same noise. A great shudder shakes
my shoulders & I fall away like antlers from a deer.
The sea’s crackle sizzles out. All that’s left of me is
a high tidemark. I was never lonely, only visiting.
B. R. Dionysius was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. He has published five collections of poetry, two chapbooks, an artist’s book and a verse novel. His ninth collection, 'Critical State’ was published in September 2022. He was short-listed in the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize, teaches English & Literature, lives in Brisbane and in his spare time watches birds.