Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Deer

The Deer

Thunder and she vanishes
into a haze of evergreens,
perfumed gold dress billowing.
A deer runs soundlessly
and blue night comes.

In the village, children break
all the school windows
and the principal prays
to the goddess of photography.

In the nearby hotel
the maid strips
in her favorite lavender room,
stretches pale fingers
to the ceiling...
as if to touch
the coupling a floor up.

In woods as dark as a kettle,
a deer stands beside
a blonde prom queen
runner-up, his antlers
gentle on her forehead.

This poem, in an earlier version, first appeared in Wind Magazine (Volume 17, Number 61, 1987), edited by Quentin R. Howard.

Living at the edge of the wilderness of British Columia, up in the Rocky Mountain Trench, on the fringe of an "instant town," I was drawn to the poetry of Georg Trakl.  I was engaged by translations made by Robert Bly and James Wright... and by Herbert Lindenberger's book in the Twayne's World Authors Series, Georg Trakl (Twayne Publishers, 1971).  That was in the winter of 1974-75.  The poetry of Trakl vastly enlarged what I thought could be done with poetry... and extended the education received from Kay Boyle and William Dickey at San Francisco State University.  In the autumn of 1979, Lindenberger, a long time Stanford University professor in comparative literature, spent time with my poems and me.  I shall forever be indebted to Herbert Lindenberger for his criticism of my early poems and for his encouragement.  My poem The Deer was deeply influenced by Trakl and Lindenberger.

Herbert Lindenberger
Stanford University
Fall 1979

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