My failing eyesight makes everything a metaphor:
things become other things—
shade and water,
spore and snow.
The deer is a fallen log;
the falling leaf—a sparrow
alighting on that log.
Only what is close is clear;
I look up and my world blurs;
grey rocks—silver haunches of racoons,
a whole family sitting, backs to me.
Waxwing flock—leaves in an updraft—
I can’t tell in this transfigured world,
and I wonder at 52, does this make me a better poet?
Yesterday, walking, I gazed into the still forest
and saw only trees, until the doe standing there moved.
In the moment before it became a doe, it was a tree,
wanted to be a tree—
like the girls in myths who run from some gods
while begging others to help them.
My deer transformed the other way—
from a still thing
to one with a heartbeat.
* * * * * *
The fawns have something to tell me
but I can’t quite hear it—
as I can’t quite see them,
sitting, legs tucked under in the ferns,
waiting for their mother to return.
I only glimpse them when they move,
and they try hard not to, staying still
until they are overcome by sleep
and their heads lower to the ground.
They disappear then, invisible in stillness,
and I know if I look away, and back,
I won’t find them again.
I strain to hear their mother,
returning softly as a ghost.
But there is only birdsong, wind in trees,
a squirrel clattering through branches.
When a mother leaves, everyone knows
she is coming back—
The momma cat slips away from her kittens
to go hunting while they are groggy with milk:
eyes shut, blind, in an unconcerned pile
knowing nothing but her smell
that is there
and back again
Last night I heard the owl as I went to bed:
One-two, rising hoot
Who cooks for you?
I remembered, then, the scent of bread,
of oxtail, of cherries, and cardamom—
and told myself:
the one who cooked for you is gone,
like the unmoving doe you saw this morning,
outlined in sunlight,
struck and crumpled
by the side of the road.