Here is the cusp of November colour:
deer in a nicotine prairie. Trunks
snaked by squirrels, clouds and crows
over yellow and russet leaf-rag.
On thin legs, bulbous-jointed like twiglets,
picking their way through the tussocks,
three females pause, wary of me
inching toward their group.
Of the two stags, one chooses now
to move away. He stands sentinel, beard
to the horizon, as the other pursues
a doe or two with his dilatory nose.
They seem so genteel, so shy-eared,
it comes as a shock to catch
the white rump, a coquettish flag
turned like a maid from a royal goosing.
And they are kings, the stags –
levelling their antlers like men
whose gods have bestowed on them
crown or helmet, plume or mitre.
One has now noticed me. His gaze
interlocks with mine and lasts seconds,
invoking a distant, tribal awareness
of blamelessness being practically useless.
Image credit: Stag by Gao Qipei, 1713 (Walters Art Museum)