The White Deer Series

Between 2004-2006, when I was suffering from serious depression and anxiety and was hiking Manassas Battlefields, I spotted several different, almost all-white deer.  Because I had never heard of or seen a white deer (albino, I assume), I interpreted their appearance as something spiritual–after figuring out that I wasn’t hallucinating and that the creatures were not de-horned unicorns, of course.  I have not seen these amazing animals since. Whether or not they have survived, I don’t know, but I believe the white deer came to me when I most needed them.

I wrote a few poems about the white deer, verses that didn’t make it into Poems from the Battlefield.  The white deer poems didn’t match the tone of the book–the series seemed more about the miracle of the creatures than the history of their habitat.  I could have edited the poems, but I didn’t want to ruin the uniqueness of the experience as expressed in the original pieces.  There may yet be a place for the unedited white deer poems, but for now, this is the place.  Enjoy.

The White Deer 

Twice blessed, I have been,
with this wordless beauty, an
only Deer, here, white

with eyes that defend
meaning more than rutting and
eating, here despite

the ways of the woods.
Wisdom leaks from its pale eyes,
and paralyzed, on

this rough trail, I stood,
waiting for some other sign,
burnt bush or a song:

“Do not fear, my child,”
I felt it would say.  “You are
still held by old earth–

there is nothing wild
here that can ever claim you,
so long as you search.”

Humbled as human,
bathed in the scent of the wise,
faith towers like Birch:

Twice blessed, I have been,
with this Deer, these trees and skies,
this haven, my church.

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