Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

American Life in Poetry: ‘Deer Descending’

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

Philip Terman is a Pennsylvania poet who, with his family, lives in a former one-room schoolhouse. And whenever there’s a one-room schoolhouse you can count on just a little wilderness around it. This is from his new and selected poems, “Our Portion,” from Autumn House Press.

Deer Descending

Perhaps she came down for the apples,

or was flushed out by the saws powering

the far woods, or was simply lost,

or was crossing one open space for another.

She was a figure approaching, a presence

outside a kitchen window, framed

by the leafless apple trees, the stiff blueberry bushes,

the after-harvest corn, the just-before-rain sky,

a shape only narrow bones could hold,

turning its full face upward, head tilted to one side, as if to speak.

I want my life back.

Morning settles around her like a silver coat.

Rustling branches, hooves in flight.

Poem copyright 2015 by Philip Terman, “Deer Descending,” from “Our Portion” (Autumn House Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.