The City of God
Now we knelt beside the ruined waters as our first blood, our bulb-before-bloom, unfurled too early in slender petals. Now we were empty. Now we walked for months on softer shoes and spoke, not quite with grief. This morning four deer come up to the yard to stand, to be stunned, at the woods' edge on their hoof-tips. Their ears twist like tuners, but they stay for minutes, minutes more, while we are shadows behind windows watching them nip at the pine bark, nibble some brown tips of hydrangea. It's been a mean, dry winter. The last time I prayed— prayed with any thought of reply, any hope of audience— I sat in a church and the city smell of lilac, fumes from the bus line, filled me. The joys of the body are not the sins of the soul. Who knows how many have come to be with us? We knelt, not as in prayer, beside the toilet and watched the first one leave us utterly—. They were deer. Now they are fog. Now the wind pulls back though the trees. We know it will be this way always —whatever fades— and the dreadful wake.
From Changeable Thunder by David Baker. Copyright © 2001 by David Baker. Appears with permission of the University of Arkansas Press. All rights reserved.