Written Deer

Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
                            —Wisława Szymborska

My handwriting is all over these woods.
No, my handwriting is these woods,

each tree a half-print, half-cursive scrawl,
each loop a limb. My house is somewhere
here, & I have scribbled myself inside it.

What is home but a book we write, then
read again & again, each time dog-earing

different pages. In the morning I wake
in time to pencil the sun high. How
fragile it is, the world—I almost wrote

the word but caught myself. Either one
could be erased. In these written woods,

branches smudge around me whenever
I take a deep breath. Still, written fawns
lie in the written sunlight that dapples

their backs. What is home but a passage
I’m writing & underlining every time I read it.


Copyright © 2018 by Maggie Smith. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 8, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

"I was reading Szymborska when I came across this line: 'Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?' The question made me want to push further into the setting—the written woods—and to consider what it means to both create and experience (or write and read) a place. I draft all of my poems longhand, often writing very quickly, and in my messy half-print, half-cursive handwriting, world and word were almost indistinguishable. As the poem came into focus, this conflation made its way into the poem’s argument."
—Maggie Smith