Beyond the stone wall,
the deer should be emerging from their yard.
Lank, exhausted, they scrape at the ground where roots and bulbs will send forth
new definitions. The creek swells in its ditch;
the field puts on a green glove.
Deep in the woods, the dead ripen,
and the lesser creatures turn to their commission.
Why grieve for the lost deer,
for the fish that clutter the brook,
the kingdoms of midge that cloud its surface,
the flocks of birds that come to feed.
The earth does not grieve.
It rushes toward the season of waste –
On the porch the weather shifts,
the cat dispatches
another expendable animal from the field.
Soon she will go inside to cull her litter,
addressing each with a diagnostic tongue.
Have I learned nothing? God,
into whose deep pocket our cries are swept,
it is you I look for
in the slate face of the water.
–Ellen Bryant Voigt is Vermont’s Poet Laureate. She lives on an unpaved road in Cabot and Jug Brook is the small stream that runs behind her house. This poem appears in her book, THE FORCES OF PLENTY, published by W. W. Norton.