Deer Haven

Now that the plowman's driven off,
nine deer edge back with gentle steps
through thickets caked with heavy snow,
returning to their favorite acres.

They wander round the fenceless yard,
will stiffen at the slightest hint
of hikers slogging down the trail.
Serene yet ever vigilant.

One doe folds up her legs and yawns
while her fawns frolic, swerve, and leap,
imprinting patterns, figure eights,
expending restless energies.

An antlered deer's near motionless
as he regards the larger scene.
Apart from instinct, I suspect
experiences schooled him well,

how precious moments meant a life
around the woods old hunters roamed
or perched on branches patiently
until a quarry crawled too close.

The wind which leaves us trembling,
that's nothing to deter the deer.
One frigid gust and in we'll dash
toward fireplaces, quilts, or tea.

These deer abide, sit out a squall,
face elements with fortitude,
then weather winters into springs.
I praise their ways. They teach me things

like welcoming whatever is,
to stride in peace, eat just enough,
respecting earth, its menaces,
prioritizing family

despite those fields lost each year
since commerce thrives where they once grazed.
The mountain slumps, demoted here
behind bold billboards crowding views.

Construction trucks rush on the hour,
deposit concrete, steel, pipes.
Some displaced deer bolt over here,
and more lay lost along the route.

I found why deer die in the light:
their eyes, dilated in the dark,
get flooded by the sudden glare.
So they stay sightless, wait and see.

You'd think by now they'd know to go.
I wish they had some sort of lore
to warn their kin of fiendish roads
and frame car beams as devil's eyes.

My meadows offer sanctuary,
a hideaway from urban sprawl.
Those deer are more than welcome here.
They're family. I love them all.

Deer Haven © Copyright 2021, Robert J. Tiess.

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Submitted: December 23, 2021