The Sacrifice of the Lilies

I have never hunted deer with gun or arrow,
and my blood quivers at deer heads on lodge walls--
or fox or bear or cat--all the same--slaughter kills
my sense of similarity to their breathing and breeds a sorrow.
I used to dream I was a deer, felt the fur encase
my quick limbs, felt the ballet tread beneath,
felt the ears circle to a danger from sheath,
felt the lunging race of flight, felt the dog wind of chase.
One starless night in a summer, walking an overgrown path,
I came upon a buck, he and I unaware of the trespass
until my alien scent made him snort and shy at impasse;
we both steadied in the silky air, I wary of his wrath.
But he merely turned away from me at a slow stalk.
In the black night, only the leaves told of his leaving,
only my animal eyes, tuned to the pebble path glimmering,
caught his strength, his motion, his rack's fork.
At dusk, especially in autumn, I wait for the deer,
usually two or three at a time, they appear in my garden;
they cross on their track, there long before we moved in,
before we grassed over and mowed and planted there.
I built a curved stone wall to hold a flower bed
and a straight vegetable garden with a fence
which they have never jumped, not once.
It is on the stone wall and flowers they tread.
My irises, my pinks, they ceaselessly eat each spring
and circles cloven press around each plant's crown.
Bloodroot and bluebells nipped to the quick--all down.
Yet most of the plants forth from the ground respring.
Only the lilies, topped, devoured, remain decapped,
my sacrifice to the deer, whose mayhem I hold bad luck.
But the dream returns and the night meet with the buck;
the sacrifice of the lilies becomes small offering wrapped
in green stalk and bright bud promise for brother in blood,
for kin, for dusk walker, for the leap that makes the heart flood.

Poems by Virginia Walker

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Virginia S. Walker, PhD
P. O. Box 1032, Shelter Island Heights, NY 11965
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