sits with a small smile, watching two speckled frogs or lizards run right and left, apart, together on long legs bendable as rubber. He doesn't bend down, looking, or sway to keep up with their scuffles, but sits immobile, his eyes icon-sized but lidded, following those mottled creatures. Bow-tied, sweater-vested, he could be a clerk at a counter, there to wrap things up for us the old-fashioned way, with brown paper and a string. He is old, no doubting it; his lean head states the skull's theme clearly. Strict time has taught him patience, practice this perfect stillness, amused, a little, like Buddha, watching two lithe, spotted beasts (allegro) in their hopscotch hurry. Now stealthy (lento), now frantic, they ramble and attack and he observes, as if to learn their motives--hunger? fear? territorial contention? They could be hoarding, like ants, against the future, or this display might be, in fact, a mating dance (as we, the viewers, are hoping in our hearts). They are not tame, exactly, or exactly trapped--that man is kindly, it strikes us, and would release them. He is admiring, it seems, the precision, worked out in all this time--the way they fit their niche. Just the parts they need they have evolved: the long and recurved reachers, the last joints padded hammer heads. He glances now and then at Previn, the beat-keeper. "They will go on forever," he might be saying, "unless your stick can make an end of it." There-- the cut-off falls, the last chord lingers in the strings. The old man flings them--winged?--up into the air, a referee (that bow tie) declaring both the winner, sending them heavenward, letting go.
Sarah Getty - 1943-
Deer, 6:00 AM
The deer—neck not birch trunk, eyes not leaf or shadow, comes clear from nowhere at the eye's edge. The woman's legs stop. Her mind lags, then flashes, "Deer at edge of the woods." The deer's eyes, black and fragile, stare back and stop her breathing. The breeze drops. Light shines every leaf. She enters that other world, her feet stone still on the path. The deer stands pat and takes her in. Antlered, static as an animal— not a statue, photograph, any substitute—can be because it wants to, it includes her in the world it watches. She notes its coat, thick, stiff like straw, with a straw-like shine. There, where the ribs are, she sees no rise or fall of breathing. She breathes, shyly, attempting the etiquette of quiet. She goes over what she knows of antlers, those little trees of bone, grown for a season and shed like leaves. The deer's head, she thinks, is hieroglyphic, eyes of wet ink, unblinking. No golden links clasp the neck— no deer of Arthur's this, sent as a sign. The woman finds and fingers these few deer-thoughts in her mind. But she's no match for its stasis, she hasn't the tact. Tableau, entrancement— but what's the second panel of the tapestry? She moves, not back, discreetly, as one would leave a king, but forward, to have it done. To free (or, less likely, fall on one knee, petitioning). The deer moves, smooth as a fish, is gone. Green edges waver and reknit. The light shifts. The woman, two- legged still, walks on. "I saw a deer," she will say, pouring coffee. Not "I was." "I saw."