Saturday, August 21, 2010


After supper last night, I sat on the front porch listening to night insects sing their monotonous music and was startled when I heard rustling in the woods near the front lawn. I glimpsed the shadowy outlines of three deer moving through the brush. The word “stealth” came to mind, but in the same thought came the word “grace.” It was a lovely, shadowy sight – those three animals gliding silently through the darkness, looking like three kings following a star in the August heavens. They didn’t appear to have a destination, and I guess they were taking a nightly stroll. More than likely they were reconnoitering places that held succulent flowers.

I have written several poems about deer that have fed on our flower plantings, which appeared in my poetry chapbook, JUST PASSING THROUGH, published the first summer we moved to Sewanee. These poems didn’t express the appreciation I seem to feel about deer now roaming about in the wooded area near our cottage. I suppose they have become old friends, and when men begin to cull them each Fall, I am sickened by the thought of the killings.

Earlier this month, I “stared down” a doe that came to my bedroom window as I was making the bed one morning. She stared intently into my eyes while her baby grazed about a foot away from her. The look was so poignant that it prompted me to write this poem I share with you this morning when the nocturnal creatures must be “sleeping in” after their nightly sashaying around. It’s a poem in a new collection of poetry I hope will be published this Spring.

They stood in the bed of leaves
mounded between two oaks,
staring at me through bedroom window,
a doe and her two spotted fawns.
I had tapped the glass
while making my bed,
the mother, her ears erect,
and her eyes looked into mine,
round with question.

We must have engaged one another
for more than moments,
and what passed from her to me,
a maternal entreaty:
let my children graze.
Finally, she turned, sighing,
licked the top of a fawn’s head,
satisfied I would not move into the yard,
frighten them away from their breakfast.

After lunch, I hurled six over-ripe tomatoes
into the small copse,
wanting the doe to catch their scent
and return to the wood,
to give me another long look
before first dark and the loneliness,
brown eyes to brown eyes brimming
with fear for our offspring,
attentive until the light was gone,
until we knew they were safe.

The cover of JUST PASSING THROUGH is taken from a painting by my brother Paul Marquart.

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