Lately I’ve been seeking out deer
going to the forest preserves at dusk,
driving slowly down Lagoon Drive,
always on the lookout
Do deer have any other expression
besides startled? Does a deer,
like a dog, smile with its tail?
Joyful flicker, bunny-hop, pom-pom trick.
It cavorts away.
No wonder it’s called a hind
Which animals are most Buddhist?
Is the deer serene in manic alertness
or is it a sloth who understands best
that life is suffering?
What about deer so intrigues me?
Its long stare reaching,
reaching out like the toll of a bell?
Those bones branching out of their heads
or the velveteen buds for them?
What makes me look for them,
hope our paths meet but not collide?
What of the child raised by deer
mute as a mushroom,
alert as the tick-tock of a watch,
the child whose stare never wavered,
the skittish kid who’d rather run?
I can’t imagine there was ever such a story
though up in Lapland some child
may dream of running with the herd.
Me? — I’m just a woman collecting
deer like beads on a necklace,
racking up each glimpse.
Their wariness is precious
I want to wear this heightened sense,
I want to pocket their endless stares
like how I want to remember
the first time I caught your eye.
© Ellen Wade Beals
This poem originally appeared on The Poetry Mill blogspot.