Nicholas S. Racheotes

Cave Art

(listen to the poem, read by Diane R. Wiener)

Rubbing on the sidewalk, until the rock went white and hot to the touch,

Drawing in the street, until the ten hop scotch almost squares were numbered,

Staying as we hopped, between the lines,

Stooping to pebble pick, without falling.

Every morning she drew 8 parallel lines on the blackboard,

Top one, for our printed initials,

Spaces between for our five memorized spelling words of the day,

Licked almost from the big print of the sour-smelling cards.

What I wouldn’t give once again to feel her fingers around mine,

To smell the perfume of her hand lotion,

To be guided in forming the perfect cursive letters I could never duplicate,

To hear her say,

“We’re working together so you won’t lose your words.”

And whose gain would be my loss?

Rubbing, until the graphite of the log-heavy pencil stretched between the thick lines on the special paper,

Drawing, mindful of the loops directions that kept g from q

Staying, until the cramps in my hand caused the slip that meant erasure,

Bowing, before the inevitability that gray curtains fall

Until someone comes along to decode the cave art.

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About the Author

Nick Racheotes is a product of the Boston public schools, Brandeis University, and Boston College, from which he holds a Ph.D. Retired from teaching at Framingham State University, he is professor emeritus of history. Racheotes is an associate of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard. He is working on a book-length study, Baptized Property: The Russian Orthodox Church and Serfdom. Of late, Racheotes and his research partner Maria Tolskaya have been engaged in bringing under-represented Russian poems to an English-speaking audience on Two offerings are posted there: “‘Grandpa’ (‘Dedushka’) by Nikolai Nekrasov, A Translation with Commentary” and “‘The Countryside’ by Alexander Pushkin, Translated with an Introduction by Nicholas S. Racheotes.” Racheotes hopes to complete another poetry offering, “Playing Life by Ear: Uncorrected Poems.” He and his wife, Pat, divide their time between Boston and Cape Cod.