20. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Patricia Traxler

A doe comes from the deep woods and stands

alone there at the edge, her amber gaze sweeping

side to side, night’s glittering swath high above her,

unreadable glimmer of semaphore

that commands the human eye, inspiring

our dreams of distant furies and glories

realer than our own. But the doe never looks up

to learn what isn’t told; she already knows

the night like a mother whose darkness enfolds her

as if to protect her from all we’ve learned and made.

         – Patricia Traxler

Note:  strange thing happened as I wrote my 10 lines, and Caryn asked me to describe it: Knowing that this week I would have 3 writing deadlines, I decided to make an early start on my renga piece last week–but in keeping with the answering spirit of this form, first I went back again through all the renga entries from the start to that date, reading it all as one whole. By the time I’d finished reading, there was an image germinating in my head, of a doe coming out of the woods at night and never looking up at the stars above her the way we humans do, yet knowing things that we can’t know, even with all our star-gazing and study. I sat in bed with my iPad late that night and worked on the idea, fiddling with language and lines till I had a rough draft at 8:30 AM; then I fell asleep. When I woke later that day and checked my email I found there’d been a new entry posted–Daniele Cunningham’s. I opened it and literally felt a physical jolt when I read the opening line: “The deer know.” I was even more stunned when I got to the closing line: “What can they know when they don’t look up?” I considered scrapping my 10 lines, but then I thought that if somehow after a close reading of all the existing renga entries had preceded both mine and hers–and we had both arrived at very similar imagery in response–why not keep my lines and let them be a reply of sorts? What could be more in the spirit of renga, no matter how her imagery found its way into my head before I’d read it?

5 thoughts on “20. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Patricia Traxler

  1. Patricia, that is indeed a startling coincidence. Powers greater than we seem to be guiding the hand of the poet. Thanks for sharing your poetry and your personal experience. Especially, for knowing and trusting and allowing.

  2. F. Victor Sullivan, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Pittsburg State University says:

    What a wonderful poem and story. I love to watch the deer in the field behind our house on the very South edge of Pittsburg. We built our house here in 1965, the only house at the end of a dirt road that has now become cement with houses on three sides. Our yard is still the S edge of the city limit and the deer are there most mornings. Thanks for you poem! After reading it, as with Daniele Cunningham’s, when I closed my eyes I could see the deer in our back yard in my mind. F. Victor Sullivan

  3. Your words and your story about them are once again proof that the poet sees language as a living, breathing thing – from living world to living words is only a short distance if we dive deep enough.

  4. Many thanks (belated, because I only now, in June of 2015, discovered your comments) to Ronda, F.Victor Sullivan, Maril Crabtree, and ZingaraPoet. I’m sorry I didn’t see these at the time so that I could respond much sooner, but in some odd way I think it was even more meaningful to read them after so much time has passed.

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