Deer at Twilight

Darkness wounds the barley,
etching it with denser clouds. A herd sends its
envoy out to nose the garbage at
road’s edge before creeping into the expanse.
And the rest follow with cheap hunger—
ten at once through the swaying curtain, heads
tipped, disappearing in the dim.
Wrong to think of them as vessels
in which your feelings live, leaping across emptiness.
Light a candle. Entertain pity all evening.
It isn’t the deer’s work to hold you. That isn’t you
growing full in the field. Paint them, your
heaviest brush lavish with creams and blacks,
trembling, timid, before the canvas.

More by Paula Bohince

The Bedroom

Sheets boiled with lavender, the hard bed.
Handmade eye pillow filled with Great Northerns.
Cactus to the ceiling, orange corsages.
No embarrassment, a calm
that is the opposite of ambition, I think.
Mind like a diary unlocked on the dresser, pages lifting in breeze.
Like those vivid flowers.
Amethyst on a chain: external heart.
Heirlooms in a shallow basket I can look at
without regret, or regard and weep, kneeling, beside.
A water glass, my eyeglasses, arms open
in a waiting embrace. Sleeping on my husband's chest,
his undershirt dryer-warm, arresting as a cloud
in a black-and-white photograph.

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How to See Deer

Forget roadside crossings.
Go nowhere with guns.
Go elsewhere your own way,

lonely and wanting. Or
stay and be early:
next to deep woods

inhabit old orchards.
All clearings promise.
Sunrise is good,

and fog before sun.
Expect nothing always;
find your luck slowly.

Wait out the windfall.
Take your good time
to learn to read ferns;

make like a turtle:
downhill toward slow water.
Instructed by heron,

drink the pure silence.
Be compassed by wind.
If you quiver like aspen

trust your quick nature:
let your ear teach you
which way to listen.

You've come to assume
protective color; now
colors reform to

new shapes in your eye.
You've learned by now
to wait without waiting;

as if it were dusk
look into light falling:
in deep relief

things even out. Be
careless of nothing. See
what you see.