verge (vʉrj)
the edge, brink, or margin (of something): also used figuratively the verge of the forest, on the verge of hysteria

to tend or incline (to or toward)
to be in the process of change or transition into something else; pass gradually (into) dawn verging into daylight

Friday, May 20, 2011

Deer One

I was walking with Artemis a few weeks ago.  Biscuit, now too lame to walk, stayed home. We were in the woods at the top of a long steep hill, away from people and other dogs--far from the road and off the trail, and alone.  There was a clearing to the left and we happened on this quiet memorial for Deer.  There was a shriveled apple wedged onto the lip of the vase.

I am struck by the simplicity of this marker--and how it so powerfully defied our solitude.  We were among the millions of untold tales of these quiet old woods.  I didn't need to know this particular tale of Deer--but I was grateful to be made aware that I was sharing this space with many.

Artie and I paused to pay homage.  She was curious about the apple but indifferent about its significance.  Clearly, she was quite at ease there. I suddenly felt a bit awkward.  I felt compelled to pay tribute, but beyond that I was at a loss.  I was oddly embarrassed by my own presence.

We eventually continued on with our walk that day but even now--several weeks later--I think about this spot.  I carry it with me, maybe as a lucky stone.

Rest in peace, Deer.
I like to believe in that idea.
Live in peace, Deer.
I like to hope that they do.


  1. From Gary Snyder:

    this poem is for deer

    I dance on all the mountains
    On five mountains, I have a dancing place
    When they shoot at me I run
    To my five mountains"

    Missed a last shot
    At the Buck, in twilight
    So we came back sliding
    On dry needles through cold pines.
    Scared out a cottontail
    Whipped up the winchester
    Shot off its head.
    The white body rolls and twitches
    In the dark ravine
    As we run down the hill to the car.

    deer foot down scree
    Picasso's fawn, Issa's fawn,
    Deer on the autumn mountain
    Howling like a wise man
    Stiff springy jumps down the snowfields
    Head held back, forefeet out,
    Balls tight in a tough hair sack
    Keeping the human soul from care
    on the autumn mountain
    Standing in late sun, ear-flick
    Tail-flick, gold mist of flies
    Whirling from nostril to eyes.

    Home by night
    drunken eye
    Still picks out Taurus
    Low, and growing high:
    four-point buck
    Dancing in the headlights
    on the lonely road
    A mile past the mill-pond,
    With the car stopped, shot
    That wild silly blinded creature down.

    Pull out the hot guts
    with hard bare hands
    While night-frost chills the tongue
    and eye
    The cold horn-bones.
    The hunter's belt
    just below the sky
    Warm blood in the car trunk.
    the limp tongue.

    Deer don't want to die for me.
    I'll drink sea-water
    Sleep on beach pebbles in the rain
    Until the deer come down to die
    in pity for my pain.