cave walls –
the lost tongues
of ochre figures

Mark Miller


Carried into deep time one might conjure here images of ancient ceremonies, sacred places and of stories told countless times over centuries and millennia.  the lost tongues calls to my mind the silence of the past, of ancestors and generations gone before. One gets a sense of ancestors looking on behind the veil of time. I thought too of the unheard voices of disempowered people and of the unfortunate disappearance of many indigenous languages – but heartened i am by the vitality of Aboriginal cultures of current generations. The word tongues may also evoke images of fire as in ‘tongues of flame’ and in this context of ceremonial fires or of fires made to light the cave walls as these ochre figures were drawn. The ochre figures and the cave walls are both very much ‘of the earth’ which may ultimately allude to a relationship we all share, for we are all of the earth, the theme of so many stories and legends around the world.

I am mindful here of suggesting images and lines of thinking that the reader might not necessarily entertain, such is the nature of interpretation, i only offer what ‘seems to me’ and the reader of course is free to conjure what they will.  A good haiku though creates spaces that are rich in suggestion of an open rather than defined nature and that are intuitive rather than explicit – this haiku certainly does that, there are many spaces among these evocative lines for the reader to wander . . .

First Published:  The Heron’s Nest, Volume XVIII, Number 3: September 2016

Selection & comments by Simon Hanson

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