Snow falling on a doe's nose;
twitch of the hairs that line her ears; how
our nervous eyebeams cross and stutter; when
spindrift flurries smash and drop.
Otter prints at the water's edge;
taste of grass beneath the pines;
flank's quiver, heart's thump, and the
sudden savour of coyote paws.
Hunger marches across the pond, by
rabbit trails and pheasant scratchings
crouches near the slouching rushes, where
come night, some creature sleeps.
Somewhere a doe is always watching--
fluttering startle, tail flicker, flattened grass and trampled snow.
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?