In the Woods

 

In the Woods

a sestina

 

In the woods behind our house we see evidence of deer;

The human prints were obscured by use but these tracks

Were easy to read; walked, stopped and went round

Stepped over a bunch of downed trees. How good to be a tree,

not stained by angers and murders. The branches, the sky

Are filled with other souls. “Consider the lilies in the field,”

 

A young god said, himself a confident kind of field

Where centuries rooted; not before Acteon became a deer,

“Torn apart by his own dogs”! A woman’s anger tears at the sky,

And rightly so, weighed against the reddened tracks

We leave behind us; bled into each place, memory, family tree.

In each long life a terrible worm has dug round,

 

And dug round, and dug deeper, in and round.

But still: we walked quietly in the woods and came out in a field.

Found feathers from a downed bird, discussed trail markers on a tree,

Noted the boundaries; marvelled as we always do at the deer

Who live so secretly near us, at the crisscross of many tracks,

Fox, deer, squirrel, dog. All the beasts under one sky.

 

Presumably all the gods are sitting on clouds in the same sky.

Enjoying each other’s company. Chewing the gristle round.

Presumably they’re comfortable with their fingerprints, tracks

Left on everything terrifying. “Experimentation took place in the field,”

They joke and jab each other with their godly elbows, turn dust to deer

To shoot, to show off. But, no, don’t let’s go there, let’s go back to the tree –

 

Oh please, please, please, can I ever go back to my quiet tree?

The one that grew in a foreign but vigorous pursuit of sky

The one who died of old age and fell, trod over by a deer,

In an early mist? Silent. Humming. An endless round.

Now the wood is always ending in a cut field,

Now the field is always skirted by running tracks,

 

And the wood is always skirted by running tracks,

And the hunter disguises himself in a tree,

So none can decide which is safer: wood or field.

Birds as we come near rush up into the empty sky.

Well, maybe it will even out. Maybe the gods will come round,

Take pity on the herds, learn the simple beauty of a deer,

 

Unstained by blood, feel the blurry beauty of a herd of deer.

Or maybe trees will turn back to women, one body turning round –

And at last we’ll see their lovely, violent silhouettes against the sky.

Emer Pond Feeney

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Author: Genese Grill

Genese Grill is the editor of 05401PLUS.