White Deer


I saw the white deer in the clearing. I lowered my bow. That planets don’t collide on a more regular basis is one of the wonders of, say, sleeping through the night. The white deer bent its head, browsed some angelica. We were compassed by clouds, the tender hooves of oaks, categories. My bow drew my right arm down, toward the earth. Language is fire’s way of mimicking ash. The cone of light reaching, first, the small town, & then its denizens. The circuit intense quiet breaks from the ambient. Like a vowel, if vowels were, like us, resident in time. I thought, children have played here. I thought, what is bronze’s prayer, its covenant. And then, slowly, the white deer stepped away from me. This was late afternoon. My clothes hung heavy on my body. Night ceased to suggest the smoke rising from distant fires. My choice was to follow, or follow. Paint me out, friend troubadour, friend thief. Paint out my suture, my lame gait. My thumb that rests once more against the string’s taut chord.


G.C. Waldrep’s most recent books are feast gently and the long poem Testament. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in APR, New England Review, Yale Review, Iowa Review, and Colorado Review. Waldrep lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Bucknell University and edits the journal West Branch. From 2007 to 2018 he served as editor-at-large for The Kenyon Review.

“The White Deer” appears in TLR: Babel Fish