the news

the brothers

Late afternoon yesterday I looked up from my desk through the big window facing south and two bucks were staring at me. Just at the edge of the woods. They had small antler buds which might mean they’re young ones, brothers maybe, but black-tail bucks lose their antlers every January or so and grow new ones in April so maybe these are mature adults. But then I wonder if they’d be traveling together? They looked at me, they ambled, they both darted back to the the bluff they’d just come up, alert as they watched for something I couldn’t see. People have recently encountered wolves just up the mountain behind us and we hear coyotes fairly often so it could have been either. I was reminded of this poem, not because of the snow (luckily we’re spared that!) but because of all the news carried by their presence. The white muzzle and throat of the one on the right, the tentative step forward, then back. And when I went out to greet them, they bounded into the woods, tails high.

Three Deer One Coyote Running
               in the Snow

First three deer bounding
and then coyote streaks right after
tail      flat out

I stand dumb a while two seconds
blankly black-and-white of trees and snow

Coyote’s back!
good coat, fluffy tail,
sees me:            quickly gone.

I walk through where they ran

to study how that news all got put down

—Gary Snyder, from No Nature: New and Selected Poems

4 thoughts on “the news”

    1. it is a wonderful poem, isn’t it? What I admire about Snyder is that yes, his poetry (in particular) is in-the-moment but that moment contains a depth of scholarship, knowledge of deep poetics, botany, a rich spiritual system, and keen observation. He wears it lightly but it’s there in every syllable.
      We have an 8 foot high fence of black deer mesh around our vegetable garden. It keeps the deer out. Mostly. In late September a bear broke in and just tore around, didn’t find much to interest it, but then the deer found the gap (we were away) and ate some huge red cabbages — 6 of them! — and all the winter kale. Some beans. And even though we repaired the fence, they kept finding ways in, slithering underneath (so that now we have wood anchoring the mesh along the ground where it’s uneven), nosing the gate aside, etc. This year, so far so good.

  1. Impossible to keep wildlife out of the garden. I thought I’d rabbit-proofed everything last fall, but the snow was much higher than usual. My fruit trees have been girdled and my shrubs are all naked at their middles. Creatured squeeze under mesh and even climb up it or mash it down to get at my garden in summer. I’m giving up this year. Let them come. I’ll eat whatever they leave me.

    1. This time of year, where I live, it’s slugs. They can grow to the size of the late dinosaurs and they are so destructive. Some things, like squash, have to be planted again and again. Beer works — little dishes of it to drown them (happily) — but I have a big garden. We used to have some rabbits around but then the coyotes moved in. I grow tomatoes in big tubs on a second story deck where it’s warm and creatures don’t often discover them. Until last year, that is, when a bear sow sent her yearling up to drag the pots down the stairs and rip the mason bee houses off the wall. I don’t know quite why the tomato plants were such a lure but I guess it might have been kelp and bone meal nestled down by the roots….

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