A deer met me on a lane
I didn’t know –
so far ahead at the blur of ditches
and the forest slopes
that I thought at first it was a tall man
his antler height like thin arms
stretched overhead waving,
or an elegant figure suddenly stepping out,
making itself real
from an oil painting.

Both of us turned away,
afraid to stir the other’s quiet.
There was only a mud way, its middle
heaped with stones between us,
only a bird more intent
on its own life warblings
half listening to our moves,
only the dull buzz of a fly agitating our silence –
and yet we felt the whole world
had stopped to watch us.

We turned away, then back again,
each fascinated by either being there
flanked by the towering humility of trees –
the wind speeding like cars
through the highway of branches,
your ribs and mine heaving a place
in the rustling copper and silver month
we had found ourselves in.
And I understood you knew ways
I had not yet found –

envied your cool turning
into the mass of dark greens
tangling upwards to the sky,
each soft step of yours such a gentle tremor
that leaves fell in quiet reassurance,
guiding your uphill path.
If I followed, your eyes would be a light for me,
your body a blanket in the thicket of fear.
If I followed, I knew there would be
no reason to ever go back.