By J. L. Lewis
I can’t say who was startled more
the white-tailed deer or myself,
she in the midst of her forage
and I lost to my thoughts.
It was rare to see a doe alone
for they are more communal
than the solitary bucks.
She was an autumn yearling
not fully grown as yet,
within her second year,
having long forsaken her spots.
She stood frozen to the woodland path
as though entranced by an unseen light.
Separated by no more than fifty feet,
yet divided by a thousand years
of interaction between our kind,
those huge brown eyes locked
with my bespectacled ones,
her ears round and alert.
I became the one transfixed,
lost within those shimmering pools.
Sad gentle eyes which seemed
to plumb the very limits of my soul,
to fathom it’s shallow pretense,
to take my measure and find it wanting,
then lowered her head and turned away
with a slow graceful beauty
as she melted back into the forest.
I warmed the teakettle
because it was time.
It was time for her to come home.
And when she ran late,
I did it again
until its piercing shrill
filled the house once more
as the hour grew late
and the cup remained untouched.
I still warm the kettle,
after all these years
and at her appointed time,
exchanging yesterday’s cup
and saucer anew
on the table across from me,
then wait for the plaintive whistle
so familiar now in our shared loneliness.
But the tea remains unclaimed,
and a cup awaits its owner.