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?