Straw Flowers

Straw Flowers
"Straw Flowers" by L. Folk

Monday, January 12, 2015

Encounters

I've been walking Green Hill lately, behind Ayer School, because the city has cleaned up the woods, cleared paths, kicked out the squatters. My dog Josie and I have a route down to the shore line, up a promontory, down, up, down again, up again, through the woods, on a vine-draped path that reminds me of a setting from Tolkien.

I saw deer prints frozen in the mud one morning, which surprised me because this patch of greenery seemed to small to support deer. I was happy when I saw the symmetrical two-moon prints, because it meant I was closer to a wildness that I originally thought; I wasn't completely engulfed in suburbia.

I wrote a poem about meeting this lonely doe. It was hard to write, and I don't feel that I was successful in describing how I felt "blessed" by encountering her. I have since seen her a half-dozen times, always when I least expect to. One morning, she sprang up out of the wood, ran a few feet, and then stopped. She actually turned around and faced me. I gave her the universal I-come-in-peace sign by raising my hand, palm facing her. She took a few steps toward me. We locked eyes for a moment, and I felt the euphoria one gets when a wild thing trusts her. I coveted her wildness, her freedom; I wanted to run with her.

Josie caught wind of her, and her hair roused off her spine. The deer seemed to sense this, and in a flash, she became the woods again, just as suddenly as she became a deer.




Encounters

what I would speak of rather
is the weightless string of his actually soft and
nervous body the nameless stars of its eyes

                                                ~Mary Oliver, “Ribbon Snake Asleep in the Sun”

They toppled trees, cleared paths to open
the woods and flush out the homeless vets
pitching tents, sleeping in the oak leaves.

I saw the two moon tracks first—incredulous,
that my neighborhood’s patch of woods
could support something as big as deer.

She came to eat the tops of fallen trees.
We came to walk the new paths and view
the river from a different vantage point,
climb the rungs of roots and run loose.

Across the river, skaters motored and
scraped their boards at dusk. Through the
young maples you can see the light turn red.

Across the river, the nameless guard
their personal space, hunched over,
waiting for the train to let down her steps.

I only see her when I am not looking
when I am head-down walking
and then a flash of white, a flash of wing
from some other world.

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