Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Another ‘hunger game’

Poetry so often speaks more effectively than prose. The poem that follows came from today’s Poem-A-Day, which I receive daily via email from the American Academy of Poets.

I doubt that any other words could express so well, or so sadly, the plight of deer in winter – especially these days when deer habitat is ever more limited and humans regard deer as little more than traffic hazards. In neighboring Princeton, the culling continues. . .

Winter Study

by Mark Wunderlich

Two days of snow, then ice
and the deer peer from the ragged curtain of trees.

Hunger wills them, hunger
pulls them to the compass of light

spilling from the farmyard pole.
They dip their heads, hold

forked hooves
above snow, turn furred ears

to scoop from the wind
the sounds of hounds, or men.

They lap at a sprinkling of grain,
pull timid mouthfuls from a stray bale.

The smallest is lame, with a leg
healed at angles, and a fused knob

where a joint once bent.
It picks, stiff, skidding its sickening limb

across the ice's dark platter.
Their fear is thick as they break a trail

to the center of their predator's range.
To know the winter

is to ginger forth from a bed in the pines,
to search for a scant meal

gleaned from the carelessness
of a killer.


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