On a Wounded Fawn Appearing in my Yard

by Mark Anthony Signorelli (September 2012)

  The quiet rains of the spring,

And dusk, that creeps through the leaves

Obscurely and sly, had fallen

Already upon the grass,

When from my window I spied,

As feeding and wandering both,

A hobbled fawn, that went there

Gracelessly on a hind leg

Damaged by some mischance,

Some accident off in the woods

That passed, or else perhaps

The effect of man’s machines,

So foreign in their force

And their motions to the grasp

Of his natural mind.  With slow,

Agonized gait, he grazed

The length of the fence in pain,

Culling the meager sprigs

Of low-lying verdancy, forced

To be satisfied with these,

Not raise his limited head

To gorge on the flowering boughs

Tantalizingly poised

Above him.  And I discerned

Then that on such sustenance –

Scant and fugitive – moved

On such imperfect limbs,

It was not long that this one

Had hope to persist in our world,

Where even the fleetest and fullest

Are often snared in their way

By skulking misfortune, dragged

To the earth by the silent, blank,

And pointless force of the earth.

  Fate seemed differently bent

Only some months ago,

I am certain, over this fawn,

Whenever some delicate doe,

His mother, deep in a copse

Gave birth to the creature, and licked

The crud from his nascent sight,

Revealing a world in bloom –

A thriving atmosphere, lush

With the possibilities

Of life and elation.  So

It typically falls out here

Among such creatures made

In the way of flesh and of longing,

When the mind first wakes

And light discloses at first

The shimmering forms of things,

And life seems new and a blessing;

In that hour, when the good

Seems hardly discernible

From the existent, we find

It easy to cast our faith

In a loving God who spread

His charity over our paths,

And easy also to think

How directed those paths must be

According to rarer laws,

How purposeful, crucial, and kind

Was the framing at first and at last

Of a mortal soul.  And when,

As they must, the incidence

Of pain and regret arrive

To trouble this placid vision,

Easy we find it to turn

Back on that primal joy,

Convincing ourselves these evils

Are only the shadows that mar

Being’s more basic luster,

Only the rust on the stock

Of the burgeoning stem; and we say

At such times that merciful God

Is not departed or cruel,

But only a little span

Has hidden his face, quite soon

To return, retrieving our lives

From the depths, restoring our minds

To their confident mastery;

And thus we preserve, in the midst

Of our sorrows and faults

The intelligible tale of our lives.

  But it happens sometimes too,

To some who are born, that grief

And affliction come to their lives

Not seldom or fleeting, but rather

Wind themselves all about

The length of their destiny’s thread,

Always with them, always

Grinding their stamina down,

Both waking and sleeping.  And for

Such creatures, being becomes

An evil itself, a curse

And a burden alike, the light

Bursting at dawn an affront

To their eyes, the bounty of spring

Torture to their souls. 

And all they wish for in life

Is immediate death,

All they dream about,

Waking and sleeping is how

The wound that is their awareness

Will fade to a void, whenever

The vital motions cease

And life’s at an end.  For these

No comprehension is there,

No comfort, no faith, who are made

The mockeries of fortune; for them

God has disappeared

And the sense of their birth,

And also that instinct of heart

That lent a meaningful cast

To their wanting and striving.  To these

All that is left is the doubt

And the silence, all that they know

The haunting consciousness

Born of despair, the plague

Of creatures panting out days

Fruitless, balmless, and hard,

Thoughts a thousand times

More brutal to bear that pain

Raging deep in the limbs.

  For ourselves, the others who live,

Who witness their fate, not bear it,

 We avert our thoughts as we might,

Condole or sigh or perhaps

Deliver a sentence we heard

Lamenting misfortune, before

We take up again the small,

Quotidian tasks of our day,

Before we turn away

Again from the spectacle,

Afraid too long a gaze

Might show the inanity

Dictating the unseen course

Of our lives and our deeds as well.

So he is most wise, or at least

The most admirable, who, when the freight

Of his anguish and constant remorse

Have taxed him to yielding, when

The night and its stars and their shapes

Return him no answer at all,

But only stand mute at the pleas

Of his quizzical sorrow, then,

When he treads by the rim

Of the desolate pit, throws back

His head, and delivers a cry

Of defiant praise, blessing

The joy, and the sweetness and growth

Of a being not his, in his bowels

Attesting the good that inheres

In the very order from which

He stands forever expelled. 

Account him not happy, but still

Strangely content, who pauses

To stand amid the scant grass

Growing around the roots

Of the flourishing elm, and stares

Full of affection up

At the stars that gleam in between

Here and there through the leaves

In their healthy abundance; he swells

At their knowledge, marveling too

How lovely they shine, though silent;

And though he is sad, and his days

Have no succor or hope

Of a meaningful end, he hallows

The scene, exults for a while

In its alien beauty, before

He resumes his stricken course,

The afflicted steps that lead

And that labor into the night.

Mark Anthony Signorelli's first collection of poems, Distant Lands and Near, is now available.  His personal website can found at: markanthonysignorelli.com

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