Thursday, February 23, 2012

Animal Person

Animal Person

Even if she has never seen a human,
when the deer sees you,
she is scared.

Even if you speak softly and sweetly,
voice diffusing like steam
through the trees.

Even if you slouch and move slowly
and smoothly, even your
eyelids are gentle.

Even if they call you an animal person,
if your friend’s shy dog
offers his belly.

Even if you dream that deer know
the secrets of the edge
of the woods.

Even if, in a driveway, you once saw
a dead deer strung up on
the basketball hoop.

Even if, after watching Bambi, you
wondered where every
deer’s parents were.

Even if you confuse venison for veal,
and someone tries to
comfort you by

saying, Those animals are born to
be killed, that’s why
we made them

Even if you wanted to be a veterinarian.
Even if you touched a deer
hoof lighter, shuddering.

Even if you have a deer tattoo. Even if
you fantasized about the
deer trusting you.


  1. Even if you've written a poem light and graceful and as full of beauty as a deer...

  2. Beautiful image and elegant poem; the deer seems lonely because we are (1) just as the deer appears frightened because we are (2). Gentleness if oftenmistaken for fear, among both deer and people.

    I want me one of those deer tatoos.

  3. That sixth stanza marks a real turn in the poem, shaking us out of any complacent reading. The use of the repetitive "Even if..." keeps setting conditions on us as we read. Well done!

  4. what is it about us, so that all the rest of the world knows immediately that we are not to be trusted? something surrounds us, thin but impenetrable, like a layer of crinkly cellophane between us and nature, so that we never quite touch the deer, the snake, or even the grass. what could punch a hole in this isolation?

    is it human culture that surrounds us, so that we could, conceivably, lay it aside and breathe the same sky as the deer? or have we created culture as an attempt to cover the gap in us, like a towel stretched imperfectly over embarrassed nakedness, the rift which is the basic mode of our being, which pre-exists and survives all efforts to understand or transcend it?

    it is heartbreak....

  5. : )

    I wish I were a veterinarian and then I promise that I would change your poem xx

  6. Run first, ask questions later, that's what we deer say.


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