snow falling on a doe's nose
twitch of the hairs that line her ears
our noisesome eyebeams, crossing, while
flake upon flake soft snow mounts
footprints of an otter at the water's edge
taste of yellow grass, tender beneath the trees
flank's quiver, heart's thump,
sudden scent of coyote paws
hunger marches across the pond, with
rabbit trails and pheasant scratchings
we pass the flattened rushes, where
the deer bed down to sleep
somewhere a doe is always watching;
flick of the tail and they are gone.
This poem--really an exercise--was suggested by what seemed to me to be a found poem in Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods (2008). In explaining "why the young (and the rest of us) need nature," and what he means by "coming to our senses," Louv recounts a game played by Janet Fout, an environmental activist, with her daughter Julia. "As they wandered through the woods, they would listen for 'the sounds they could not hear:'
snowflakes forming and falling
dew on the grass
a seed germinating
an earthworm moving through the soil
cactus baking in the sun
an apple ripening
a tooth decaying
a spider weaving its web
a fly being caught in the web
a leaf changing colors
a salmon spawning"
even, "after the conductor's baton ceases to rise" (76-7).
It seemed to me that certain emotions or states, too, like love, fear, hope, hunger, desire, sleepiness, sadness, wariness and even joy were very often first seen or experienced as if without or below the threshold of audible sound. Likewise, we tend to treat vision, taste and touch as more or less silent sensuous attributes. Still, as my experience of being eye to eye with deer through a pane of glass testifies, looking is not really noiseless, even if we cannot hear one another. It is rather, like so many other things, comprised of sounds we cannot or can hardly hear. What for example is the sound of feeling nervous? Or the impossibly slow trickling onset of spring?