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Touring Cueva de las Monedas I. by Charlotte Pence

published in her book, Code (Black Lawrence Press, 2020)

Caves are not caves; they are thresholds

into other worlds. We enter, blink into being,

inhale as our ancestors would have for ripeness

of bear or carnage from cougar's feeding.

Safe scents of cold clay, mud puddles,

and prayer pull us in past stalactites,

past crystal-calcium horns, past

claw marks that rib walls in white.

The map-less dark reminds of centuries

when people knew they did not possess

dominion over nature and its predators, pathogens,

and meteors. Now we pretend otherwise,

claim bright futures begin with plans

and paths we clear with fire and hungry hands.

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