A deer in the clearing


Earlier in the year, while still “weed inspecting,” I had a sort of engagement with the white-tailed deer in this picture. I’ve never been anything like a “whisperer,” but I was calm this day and the deer seemed approving. I stood quiet, the time stopped—as happens in these encounters—and I got quite close to her. At one point, in her curiosity, she seemed to flow toward me. Then somewhere she lost interest, or rather, I became demanding, and she trotted off.


A deer in the clearing

When she sees me her ears go up like small rocket ships
and her nose lifts to sip the air.
Her body is wind and spring steel,
the still deep oscillation of tension and release.
When I move, I am a plough lurching over hardpan,
I am an oaf of the meadow, I am
that slumping bale of hay by the bush.
Unfit for this scene, a passing curiosity,
a bit of humour in the day, for the deer.

But I stop and stand still…enact stabilitos, 
and she gives me this:
When I move diagonally,
she steps carefully after me,
each hoof in the air, a countdown.
When I turn towards her, she turns away,
jumps twice, stops, swings back,
pivots perfectly, to face me again.
She must suffer my plodding dance
but I will dance this way as long as she wants—
for her intelligence is of some new world,
where silence and white flowers impart meaning
and “truth springs out of the earth.”

She lives beyond the thing within the the thing itself,
knows the touch of autumn in the smell of tansy,
feels the wind when the wind’s mind thinks to move,
lives at the break of clover, at the budding of dawn,
sees the fall of stars and cities in the sweet-pea’s keeled bloom,
while I stand knee-deep in this grass, dim to its feathery glumes.


  1. I won’t repeat what others have said about the poetry you deliver (which I rarely “get”, but do experience emotionally, at least on good days), but I will say this: you are neither dim to the feathery glumes of grass, nor an oaf of the meadow. You, I believe, in an infinitely more profound way than the deer, see meaning in the unknown, and know of suffering: suffering not only the actions and words of those less skillful or insightful or graceful than you are; you know the pain of being a conscious human being, the pain of loving and watching the pain of others.

  2. That means so very much to me Connie. Especially coming from you. One who knows the dimensions of suffering, has endured unwarranted pain, and has risen beautifully above many forms of censure. I thank you.

  3. I fully agree with Connie’s reflection about you, but your self-deprecation speaks to me about how much that goes on around me that I’m oblivious to.

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