Tunes for a Monday Morning
The stories that demand to be told

Deer prayers

Three Does and a Kid by Donna Howell-Sickles

This morning when I looked out the roof window
before dawn and
a few stars were still caught
in the fragile weft of ebony night
I was overwhelmed. I sang the song Louis taught me:
a song to call the deer in Creek, when hunting,
and I am certainly hunting something as magic as deer
in this city far from the hammock of my mother’s belly.
It works, of course, and deer came into this room
and wondered at finding themselves
in a house near downtown Denver...

- Joy Harjo (from my favorite Harjo poem, "Song for the Deer and Myself to Return On")

Stray fawn in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2013

Queen Anne's Lace, Devon

...And so we close our eyes when we pray to seek the blindness
that offers a window into the world,
                                                     & the world within this one,
sudden rain so fine it could be just a trick of the wind & the light,
                                                                                            there & gone,
as the deer move off, through the silky wilds
                                                                of Queen Anne's lace,
through clover scatter-brushed in the grasses,
the long grasses that hold the traces of their passing

for a moment only, & beneath the old pear trees
already heavy with their suns,
with the cities of clouds the caterpillars
have spun for their tombs
                                     as they move from this life & into the next one.
And we, with our rain-limned bodies, listening
for the echoes of our prayers to return,
to the aethereal bodies drifting so close
                                                       & out of sight,
listening hard for the sound of our own disappearance.

- Mark Wagonaar (from "Deer Hour Gospel")

Deer Amonst the Trees and Forest Deer Trio by Tony Abeyta

I'd seen
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night
under the pines...

I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.

- Mary Oliver (from my favorite Oliver poem, "Five A.M. in the Pinewoods")

Deer Dancer by Tony Abeyta

Hunting Processional by Tony Abeyta

I somehow overlooked these deer pictures (from the American South-west) during our Deer Week back in early July. The drawing at the top is "Three Does and a Kid" by "cowgirl" artist Donna Howell-Sickles, from Texas. The paintings are by Toby Abeyta, a young Navajo/Anglo artist from New Mexico: "Deer Amongst the Trees," "Forest Deer Trio,"  "Deer Dancer," and the two-part "Hunting Processional."  Please visit the artists' websites to see more of their beautiful work. The deer photo is of a stray fawn found at the City Hall in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexio, this summer. It's now at the Wildlife Center in Espanola and will be released into the wild after rehabiliation.   

I should mention that it's going to be a particularly busy month here at Bumblehill, due to deadlines, guests, and a family member's impending move. I'll keep posting, but the posts may be shorter & quicker over the weeks ahead. I''ll continue on with the  "Into the Woods" series when time permits, and will return to it fully in September.


I saw a pair of deer in a field from my train window on Sunday morning.
The sight really was like a bounding, russet prayer.

Thanks for more lovely words and images!

Beautiful artwork as usual, Terri. Especially Tony Abeyta's. But changing the subject wildly...A few weeks ago you spoke about the 'Pre-Joycean Fellowship' or the PJF, and I asked you to recommend one of their novels for me to read. You suggested Jane Yolen's 'Briar Rose'.

I know that Jane and yourself have recieved all sorts of accolades from the literary world for your work, but knowing that I love to get feedback for my own novels from almost any and every source, I thought I'd add my own small opinion to the mix. I can only say that I stand in awe of this astonishing book. The brutality of history interwoven with bright strands of fairy tale and fantasy make a deeply moving warp and weft of the human experience.

Thank you, Terri, for your recommendation, and thank you, Jane, for your work.

I see deer almost daily on my morning and evening walks.

There is something extraordinarily magical in the grace of deer movement, whether almost at rest or leaping at speed.

I have thought, for many years, that the typical representation of unicorns as resembling white horses with the addition of a spiralled horn does not do them justice and in my imagination unicorns are smaller than that, more dee-like in their bodies.

There is a dull placidity in the eyes of a horse. In the eyes of a deer, there is a mixture of the alertness of the wild and the innocent wisdom of the ancient. There is a particular pasture near here where they can often be seen grazing in small herds on the sweet herbs growing along the border of the woods.

With patience I can get very close. Then there is sudden contact, eye-to-eye, the rhythm of breath, our body scents mingling in the same early morning air. They return peacefully to their grazing or turn and leap, laughing at the heavy notion of Newtonian gravity, transforming themselves, almost no longer corporeal, into flashes of green and golden light under the trees - then gone; the spell broken, the encounter only a memory.

I Did Not See Deer Today

I did not see deer today.
When I turned into the pasture
they'd gone already.

I walked to where their heat
still lingered, a warm memory
in the damp morning air.

They left me a poem
imprinted in the soft earth
at the edge of the wood.

A poem illustrated by
scent, punctuated by scat,
in a secret language

not only deer can understand.

With love,


Joy Harjos poem! The magic of praying deer into the room!
I did. They came--shy at first, and angular in their concern, I, stunned by this answer, grew antlers as they watched.

Love the poem, Austin. Especially the last verse.

And thanks Stuart--made my day!


I came round a curve on my bike one afternoon a couple of days ago, bumping down a white-earth road after walking around Wita-Tanka, the big island where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet, and startled a young doe, who had been grazing at the side of the road in the sunlight. I gasped, she bounded into the trees, and we both looked at each other over our shoulders as I passed...she checking her safety and maybe a little curious about the strange creature on the spinning machine, I drinking in her glowing-coated grace and lovely, wild eyes. A blessing for which I thanked her, smiling.

Thank you Terri,
As is often the case, just the medicine I needed.

I have to disagree about the eyes of a horse though Austin! X

I'm so glad you liked it. It's one of my favorite novels in the world.

Beutiful, Austin. I particularly like this:

They left me a poem
imprinted in the soft earth


Oh, and that's a whole poem in itself, Michelle. Wonderful!

Thank you for these magical deer sightings, everyone. What lovely imagery to wake up to this morning.

Angharad, I'm so glad!

I agree entirely with what you say about horses, Angharad, though in truth I know very little about the animal being city born and bred. but I once knew someone long ago who had stables and the horses there certainly had lively eyes, especially the stallions, some of which had the wickedest gleam in their eyes that I've ever seen!

I must say that I know deer better than horse, it's true.

The only horses of my recent acquaintance are very passive ponies in charming little buttercup fields hereabouts and my experience of them may have weighted my overall impression of their relative spirit too far towards docility.

I bow then, to your greater knowledge.

But surely, any domestic animal is less wild in the eye than a true-bred wild creature? Perhaps not. When Bobbi spies a rabbit - or indeed a deer - he's all wild hunter and no mistake.

Harry, if I make it to Chagford before the year's out (and I should dearly love to do so) we MUST hang out a bit. It has been far, far too long.

Peace all, A.

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