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Sarah Getty


Born in Berwyn, IL on January 27, 1943 after growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Sarah Getty graduated from Stanford University, and has a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a Poet in the Schools, has led creative writing workshops for the Bedford Center for the Arts and the Bedford Free Public Library, and teaches the writing of poetry and fiction in her living room.

Sarah’s second book of poems, Bring Me Her Heart (Higganum Hill Books, 2006), was released to critical acclaim. Her first collection, The Land of Milk and Honey (University of South Carolina Press, 2002), won a Cambridge Poetry Award in 2002.

In 2004, she also received the New England Poetry Club’s Barbara Bradley Award. Her poem “Ciphers” has been set to music by Adam Grossman. Anthologies carrying Sarah’s work include Birds in the Hand, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004). In July, 2006 she lead a poetry workshop as Poet-in-Residence at the Villa Vergiliana near Naples, Italy.

She lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Sarah Getty

By This Poet


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."

Channel 2: Horowitz Playing Mozart

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.

That Woman

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!"

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