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The Deer Wife


The Deer Wife
by Wendy Howe

Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter. -Proverbs 6:5

Bear sons. Bind roses on cloth
with the needle’s thread. Braid
and unbraid hair. Look good by the light
of window or hearth-- but say nothing
of the forest.

Open a prayer book, sit
and pretend to read when legs
want to leap as those of a doe
defying steep hill and stone chasm,

when the soul needs to shift
molding the shape of her grace
into something wild, furtive.

How dare you ask this of me

when you know I was never tamed
by keys and clocks, psalms or spindle,

when you know I was raised by the crone,
an orphan she found
under fir trees where the deer
and wood pigeons fled.

How dare you ask this of me

when you said you didn’t care
but simply wanted a fair bride
to steal your breath, to share meals
sweetened with wine and fruit.
A maiden’s shy smile.

How can you ask this of me

when you know I'm more hoof than heel
growing cold within these walls -- wanting
my pelt of fur, not shelter
that will lay your lady to rest
in her own sheet of skin?

How can you ask this of me?

I weep --
with yet a knife to clean
and a tray of unpeeled apples.


* * *

Wendy Howe is an English teacher and free lance writer who lives in Southern California with her partner. Her poetry reflects her interest in myth, diverse landscapes and ancient cultures. Over the years, she has been published in an assortment of journals both on-line and in print. Among them: The Linnet's Wings, Ariadne's Thread, The Tower Journal, Strange Horizons, Niteblade, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Stirring A literary collection, Yellow Medicine Review and elsewhere. Recently, her work has been featured in several themed anthologies exploring myth, nature and dementia.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a fantasy poem?

I think the most important aspect of a fantasy poem is how the mythic or fantastical element connects to the human condition and reflects the emotions and instincts we experience in our everyday lives. Shape shifting is a dominant factor in many of my poems; but I strive to show how this ability enables the character to cope and survive, to grow and define one's sense of individualism. The magic in the fantasy poem transcends its physical presence in the theme/plot and reveals the hidden miracles of existence, the possibility for change and transformation.

1 comments:

Lynn said...

Beautiful, Wendy.