Spring 2003 • Vol. XXV No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 2003 |

Agency

They stumble now and then, the deer, like any other walking thing, even those not unlike themselves, four-legged but less elegant and fleet—cows in a bog, the clumsy, over-bred, domesticated dogs—though most of the deer I've seen go down have suffered in some way the agency of man: a buck at full run dropped by a lucky shot, its sleek forequarters folded back and the early autumn dust blowing up around it in a cloud. The genderless whitetail haunch and flag flashing through headlights and crashing on the sinew-tight wires of a three-strand fence. And then this morning, the last, smallest one of a band of seven does— not stepping like the others but playful—leaping from the berm that separates the woods from the often-plowed, sheet ice and flurry-dusted driveway. I was watching from the dining room window when she fell and I spilled a little coffee, flinching. Then a few of the others looked up and saw me there, their amazing, ludicrous tails spontaneously rising. And everyth

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Robert Wrigley teaches at the University of Idaho. His sixth book, Lives of the Animals, will be published later this year by Penguin, which also published his Reign of Snakes, winner of the 2000 Kingsley Tufts Award.

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