• Penny Harter


On my frequent rides out along nearby country roads, I think I learn from all the fellow creatures I see. Yesterday brought wild turkeys, and, of course, more deer. Once while in Japan with my late husband, a renku-master gave me the pen-name “Dream Deer”. I think deer are one of my teachers.

What Shall I Say?

What shall I say to the two tiny fawns

grazing on soft grass along the roadside

until startled by my slowing car?

How can I follow them as they dart away

into a dense green cathedral? Although

they are old enough to be out here alone,

their mother is probably nearby, hidden

among thickets. Reading Bambi’s Mother

as a child, I cried, learning early the sudden

pain of virtual grief, though not yet the anguish

of real loss. If I could follow these fawns, I’d

tell them they are blessed to have been born,

blessed to be bound by a protected woods

bordering a seldom-traveled road, blessed

to join the family of deer.

Yesterday, some among the five distant deer

I saw together in a deer heaven—that endless

grassy lane bordered by another protected woods

out of some long ago fairytale—knew when I had

stopped to view them, lifted their heads to stare

back at me until, sensing no danger, they resumed

peaceful grazing. Would we could be like those

deer—face what might harm us, then find within

ourselves a grassy lane where we can safely graze.

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