Friday, July 3, 2020

ArtSpeak: RED "Cave Painting (Altamira)" poem

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Linda at A Word Edgewise for Roundup.

So many thanks to all who have sent in poems for mine and Charles' new poetry anthology -- we've received some wonderful poems! If you're just seeing this, there's still time. Click here for all the details.

Today I've got another ArtSpeak: RED poem for you... from one of the oldest known pieces of art ever.

...and here is my poem! Thanks so much for reading.

Cave Painting (Altamira)

A single bison rises
from cool-damp walls,

its fire-stroked hide
spirited as its eyes.

What hands grasped
pestle to grind the ochre?

What mind imagined
this bison's bold stance?

Who was first to smear-brush-daub
this bison to life?

Who was first to call it red?

- Irene Latham


  1. Irene, this is wonderful. I always get super excited when middle schoolers who are examining a photograph begin to think of the photographer. I love how the bison, the artist, the assistant and we the readers are tied together in this.

  2. Thank you for taking the original artist's "smear-brush-daub" and bringing this poem to life, Irene. :)

  3. I like the question in the end of your poem and how the bison rises from the cool damp walls. Speaking of red, I was reading this week in "Epidemics and Society" by a Yale professor named Snowdon, that during small pox outbreaks, some doctors used to think red light was soothing. So for sick rooms they hung red curtains, and found red furniture and blankets. I'd never heard that.

  4. Your journey through art to find RED has been remarkable! What variety. If only we could time travel and peer over the shoulder of this artist...

  5. Oh, "its fire-stroked hide." Fabulous!

  6. I love the questions in your poem because I often wonder the same things. Beautiful, Irene!


Your thoughts?