Magazine October 20, 2008, Issue

Archaeologist

Ancestral Puebloan ruins at Monarch Cave, Comb Ridge, Utah, part of the newly created Shash Jaa National Monument (Jason Lee Steorts)

For hours, he sat in the ancient cave alone,

stunned by what he’d found in the dust and debris:

a huge picture, frescoed into the stone,

high in the cliffs over the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It showed some red-robed figures gathered at dawn

for a sexual ritual under the shameless skies,

surrounding a naked woman, obscenely drawn,

who stared out helplessly into his eyes.

Yes, it was nearly four thousand years old,

but the face was hers, the face of his fiancée,

who waited in Maine, waiting alone in the cold,

and no one would ever see her looking this way.

He rose, chipped off her face, then sailed to Rome,

never reporting his

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