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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Lost (Again)


File:Mule Deer in Bryce Canyon.jpg

Even on the mean concrete streets
Of Berkeley there are lost deer at night
This time of year, run off the hills, descending
To look for water and, not finding it,
Settling for nibbling the leaves of rose
And other bushes in people's back yards

Last fall this time, standing in the daytime rush
Hour street out front, now vacant this once
Because it was peaceful three in the morning
I heard familiar light tap dancer steps
On pavement that alerted me to
A presence I knew could not be another

Clumsy human like me, turned and saw close by,
Surprised as I was by our chance meeting,
Ears cocked toward me and likewise frozen,
A big deer, calculating whether to make
A run for safety yet no doubt in the same
Moment aware in cities there's no safety

For deer--we stood both thus transfixed,
Till I looked away, knowing in this turning
I would allow our night encounter to end--
As so it did, for in those seconds more
Light footsteps told me the visitor was
Moving away up into darkness toward...?

File:Doe and fawns July 2006.jpg

Mule Deer in Bryce Canyon: photo by Dbenbenn, 2005
California mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus californicus): doe and fawns, Auburn, Ca.: photo by Geisig, 2006


Anonymous said...

I have seen them- said...

I am not anonymous-

tom said...

Thanks Melissa, we were never in doubt. You are always welcome here.

The muledeer families in this neighborhood make small concerted forays for water, hesitant, anxious, but persistent, with the mothers often making risky traffic crossings to return for scared fawns that are as yet unable to summon the nerve to cross the freeway feeder without considerable prodding.

They had for some decades a mini-habitat up the hill in a fenced-in semi-wilderness that was let to go ungoverned by the human owners, but when the property changed hands (ironically passing from ownership by one religious sect to another), paradise was paved to put up a parking lot, and the muledeer perforce descended to join us here in this lower world where each of us must certainly have a name, though it sometimes almost seems they can see right through it.

Billy said...

Stunning poem, he types jealously.

Anonymous said...

What an exciting encounter! These creatures are simply unbelievable. I pictured the scene perfectly. I could even hear the tap dancer steps myself.

There are deer here too but most of them are inside game reserves. Unfortunately, it is quite a business involving both Argentinians and foreigners. What a pity...

leigh tuplin said...

Brilliant this Tom. Atmospheric to the point of being there.

TC said...

Thanks Leigh. This was one of those "moments" we have been talking about. The awe, the bewilderment, finally the humility.

SarahA said...

Don't you feel blessed?
'I heard familiar light tap dancer steps' I do love this and the picture those words conjure up in my mind's eye.

TC said...

Yes SarahA, blessed is exactly the word, a blessing, and not even in disguise.

In such rare moments, the breath is held, and all is caught up in the still and motionless *dance*.

The fragility, and delicacy, and beauty.