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Prints by Penny Ayers

A child’s mark before letters—
sticky red palms, ten tiny petals,
two flowers patted on white.
Already they’re telling her story—
the whorls of the thumbs,
the dips and stretches of lines
of life, of the heart.

She’ll leave them everywhere—
on the skin of lovers,
knives in the kitchen,
the riffled pages of library books,
on window glass, wiping raindrops.
Will she reach out to touch
things no longer there,
make her mark for others to find
like her sisters whose hands
were caught in crushed ochre
on cave walls, among running horses,
the haunches of bison,
35,000 years ago?*

*It’s now believed that many cave paintings
were made by women, judging by the size of the handprints.




Pe​nny Ayers lives in Cheltenham. She has been published online and in various magazines, most recently in ‘Ink, Sweat & Tears’, ‘Snakeskin’ and the summer edition of ‘Spelt’. She helps run the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network.


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