Hands, by Robinson Jeffers

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Picture taken by me in 2005.

Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. (Mariano on Wikipedia)

Inside a cave in a narrow canyon near Tassajara
The vault of rock is painted with hands,
A multitude of hands in the twilight, a cloud of men’s
palms, no more,
No other picture. There’s no one to say
Whether the brown shy quiet people who are dead intended
Religion or magic, or made their tracings
In the idleness of art; but over the division of years these
careful
Signs-manual are now like a sealed message
Saying: ‘Look: we also were human; we had hands,
not paws. All hail
You people with the cleverer hands, our supplanters
In the beautiful country; enjoy her a season,
her beauty, and come down
And be supplanted; for you also are human.’

―Robinson Jeffers from Selected Poetry of Robinson JeffersParabola, Volume 6, Number 1: “Earth & Spirit,” 1981. This issue is available to purchase here. If you have enjoyed this piece, consider subscribing.