Stone Mountain, Georgia, as it is not usually seen.
I followed a hurt deer into the woods one afternoon.
It did not run in fear. The park drive had been busy,
and it appeared to have been hit. A fork-horn buck,
antlers between the ears. With his head tilted a bit,
they formed a crown. A king of the forest? Not yet.
Six seasons old — halfway between adult and fawn.
He limped past empty-limb trees to a clearing where
acorns scattered the ground. And licked them up in
his tongue and chewed, forgetting to feel his wound.
He could’ve been on his own one week, or orphaned
just that day. So I stood vigil, as a step-parent might,
until half an hour went by. Then I felt a different pang.
For I knew he mustn’t grow so used to human beings. This fork-horn was a wild creature best left in peace.
The Prayer Dancer
I once hiked a trail no longer printed on maps to a ridge
where dead trees sparred against the sky. Rock outcrop
stretched below for as far as I could see. This was a land
four hundred million years in the making, but suggesting
a metaphor of apocalypse, or perhaps a Sinai of the soul.
Boulders covered gullies like rubble tossed from a blast.
Scrub pine and lichen were flash-baked black and white.
I could discern only negative silhouettes of living things.
Then I spied a blaze of cerise. It was a young woman in
a prayer dress, her brown arms extended toward the sun.
She turned east and then west, pulling light rays inward,
sealing them to her chest with closed fists. She gleamed.
I felt like a mortal trespassing on the sacred. For I knew
out of such brief sightings, whole faiths may be founded.
Our Lady of the Rock. Fatima: I hope, I believe, I adore.
Sister Sun, save this troubled world. Om ravaye namaha.
The prayer dancer now grew conscious of my presence.
She raised a veil to her face, which I never did glimpse.
She did not break her rhythm, breathing in and out easily,
drawing strength from a source beyond mountain and sky.