October 21, 2016KR OnlinePoetry

Dead Doe: I

From the Kenyon Review, New Series, Summer 1991, Vol. XIII, No. 3

for Huck

The doe lay dead on her back in a field of asters: no.

The doe lay dead on her back beside the school bus stop: yes.

Where we waited.
Her belly white as a cut pear. Where we waited: no: off

from where we waited: yes:

at a distance: making a distance
we kept,
as we kept her dead run in sight, that we might see if she chose
to go skyward;
that we might run, too, turn tail
if she came near
and troubled our fear with presence: with ghostly blossoming: with the
                                                                    unstoppable blossoming
                     and the black stain the algae makes when the water
                                                                                           stays near.
We can take the gilt-edged strolling of the clouds: yes.
But the risen from the dead: no!

The haloey trouble shooting of the goldfinches in the bush:
                                    yes: but in season:

kept within bounds,
not in the pirated rows of corn,
not above winter’s pittance of river.

The doe lay dead: she lent
   her deadness to the morning, that the morning might have weight, that
                  our waiting might matter: be upheld by significance: by light
                  on the rhododendron, by the ribbons the sucked mint loosed
                                                                                                 on the air,
by the treasonous gold-leaved passage of season, and you

from me/child/from me/

from . . . not mother: no:
but the weather that would hold you: yes:

hothouse you to fattest blooms: keep you in mild unceasing rain, and the fixed
                           stations of heat: like a pedalled note: or the held
                                                  breath: sucked in, and stay: yes:

but: no: not done: can’t be:

the doe lay dead: she could
do nothing:

the dead can mother nothing . . . nothing
but our sight: they mother that, whether they will or no:

they mother our looking, the gap the tongue prods when the tooth is missing, when
                                                                     fancy seeks the space.

The doe lay dead: yes: and at a distance, with her legs up and frozen, she tricked
                                                     our vision: at a distance she was
                                                             for a moment no deer
at all

but two swans: we saw two swans
                      and they were fighting
               or they were coupling
                    or they were stabbing the ground for some prize
                             worth nothing, but fought over, so worth that, worth
the fought-over glossiness: the morning’s fragile-tubed glory.

And this is the soul: like it or not. Yes: the soul comes down: yes: comes
into the deer: yes: who dies: yes: and in her death twins herself into swans:
fools us with mist and accident into believing her newfound finery

and we are not afraid
though we should be

and we are not afraid as we watch her soul fly on: paired

as the soul always is: with itself:
   with others.
                             Two swans . . .

Child. We are done for
in the most remarkable ways.

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Brigit Pegeen Kelly was the author of The Orchard (American Poets Continuum, 2004), Song (BOA Editions, 1995), which was the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets, and To The Place of Trumpets (1987), which was selected by James Merrill for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Her poems have appeared in many periodicals, including Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, and Yale Review, and her work was chosen for the 1993 and 1994 volumes of The Best American Poetry.