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."
Sarah Getty - 1943-
Look! A flash of orange along the river's edge-- "oriole!" comes to your lips like instinct, then it's vanished--lost in the foliage, in all your head holds, getting on with the day. But not gone for good. There is that woman walks unseen beside you with her apron pockets full. Days later, or years, when you least seem to need it--reading Frost on the subway, singing over a candled cake--she'll reach into a pocket and hand you this intact moment--the river, the orange streak parting the willow, and the "oriole!" that leapt to your lips. Unnoticed, steadfast, she gathers all this jumble, sorts it, hands it back like prizes from Crackerjack. She is your mother, who first said, "Look! a robin!" and pointed, and there was a robin, because her own mother had said to her, "Look!" and pointed, and so on, back to the beginning: the mother, the child, and the world. The damp bottom on one arm and pointing with the other: the peach tree, the small rocks in the shallows, the moon and the man in the moon. So you keep on, seeing, forgetting, faithfully followed; and you yourself, unwitting, gaining weight, have thinned to invisibility, become that follower. Even now, your daughter doesn't see you at her elbow as she walks the beach. There! a gull dips to the Pacific, and she points and says to the baby, "Look!"