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National Poetry Commendation, 2003


The Deer Woman


                   a fter David Lynch



When Alvin encounters her

on the road, she's just run over

her thirtieth deer and is crying out

across the ravaged plains 

where the gentle beasts spring

out of nowhere.


Will he lay his hand on her sleeve,

boil a kettle he takes from his trailer?

And as he hands her the strong, sweet tea,

offer a tale or rumination to summon

the genius of solace, bring an end

to the deathfest stalking her trail

although she blows her horn

along that stretch of tarmac,

slows right down?


And at that moment as she drives out of view,

does she sense the fragile and sinuous

connections which sometimes

take the shape of a deer

listening at the shadowy edge?

And that for every collision in the landscape,

every dislocation and burden of grief,

there' s a magic property in words

which can tilt the earth

in just such a way that man, woman,

deer may let the other pass like tremors

of light, breaking through the surface.  


But he looks around him

at the drained fields, where a single tree

stands blasted of leaves,

can find no sense to string

an honest meaning.

Under the stars that night

he barbecues succulent deer

in its crisp juice. And the silence

pours unction on his soul:

the woman continues

as a magnet to the creatures

who fall under her wheels,

like figments of an impossible language.



Linda Rose Parkes


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