The Deer Herd

August 4, 2013.

Last night at Genehouse, I walked outside at one a.m., wearing only shorts and shoes. The tree frogs and bullfrogs were rehearsing. The night was black, pregnant with stars, almost cold. I walked up the north hill, sliding my feet toes first because I couldn’t see. I stood silent for thirty minutes and contemplated the sky.

Then I heard it: Steps. Tentative. The meadow was filling from all directions. A stick on the ground cracked. They came. “They,” I knew not what, but I was surrounded. I made myself rigid, arms at my side, slow breaths.

My archaeologist’s eye focused and I began to see large moving shadows. Then I heard the snorts and otherbreath, the familiar huffing of an alpha female. Something brushed my back and a rough tongue sampled my salt. I was standing in a herd of deer. They had come up the hill to forage for food and the still, dark mancreature had them curious.

Coyote howls began and the pack acknowledged and the huffers, the adults moved the group away from me, until the herd transmogrified into dark matter. A rabbit screamed. The North Star gleamed, as it did for escaping slaves near this very spot, two hundred years ago; as it did on this very spot for the First People twenty-five thousand years ago: a timeless beacon for a journey.

One can stand still and go on a journey. Last night I was Odysseus. Last night the world came to me.


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