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M A R C H   1 9 9 4

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by Maxine Kumin

Also by Maxine Kumin:
The Nuns of Childhood: Two Views (1992)
Continuum: A Love Poem (1980)
January 25th (1965)
Grace (1961)

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We ride up softly to the hidden
oval in the woods, a plateau rimmed
with wavy stands of gray birch and white pine,
my horse thinking his thoughts, happy
in the October dapple, and I thinking
mine-and-his, which is my prerogative,

both of us just in time to see a big doe
loft up over the four-foot fence, her white scut
catching the sun and then releasing it,
soundlessly clapping our reveries shut.
The pine grove shudders as she passes.
The red squirrels thrill, announcing her departure.

Come back! I want to call to her,
we mean you no harm. Come back and show us
who stand pinned in stopped time to the track
how you can go from a standing start
up and over. We on our side, pulses racing,
are synchronized with you racing heart.

I want to tell her, Watch me
mornings when I fill the cylinders
with sunflower seeds, see how the chickadees
and lesser redbreasted nuthatches crowd
onto my arm, permitting me briefly
to stand in for a tree,

and how the vixen in the bottom meadow
I ride across allows me under cover
of horse scent to observe the education
of her kits, how they dive for the burrow
on command, how they re-emerge at another
word she uses, a word I am searching for.

Maxine Kumin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her collection of poems Up Country. Her most recent volumes are Connecting the Dots (1996) and Selected Poems: 1960-1990 (1997).

Copyright © 1994 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; March 1994; The Word; Volume 273, No. 3; page 96.

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