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.