Marsh Deer appears as the last poem in the first section in my book of poetry, “Theologies of Terrain.” My brother Pat did see an early version of this effort on July 29, 2015. The first failed version began, “On barrier islands, the marsh deer heed the whisperings of currents.” I credit a workshop at Richland Public Library conducted by the brilliant Ed Madden for helping bring this poem home.

Marsh Deer

They pratfall a journey
between twisted shrub oaks,
part the blades of saw palmettos,
glide through the last dry tickle
of bristle grass and foxtail.

More like a string
of hooved prayer beads
giving thanks to the wilds,
Their resolve, moss-draped,
asks the dawn for its deepening,
stands under its roseamber wonder.

They tease the surf—
it greets them kissing
with wide smiles and quick legs.
They kick and circle
the white tailed mystery.

What draws them
to the white foam,
to the promise of crossings?
What makes any creature
choose uncertain currents?

Green turtle hatchlings,
bull sharks circling in creeks,
the bric-a-brac of shattered shells,
translucent dreams,
heart-shaped impressions
disappearing on a declivitous shore.

Lives are as fleeting as bird songs,
as long as letting go.