The night classes pour into asphalt lotsthat soon empty of their engines,the students seeming to dissolve like raindrops,the students seeming now to have been a hallucinationthat buzzed angrily for hours beneath fluorescent litceilings at poems like hands that refused to be heldor glittered their eyes at the kisses placed bypoems on their palms, longing for the vantageof multiple choice answers over these overturesof beauty and malignance. And the questionnot just once but again, again, What is it?They are all gone, the poems and their students,have left me to wander into this mist settlingacross the soft lawns this nether time of night,to walk solitary toward my car's lone smudge beneaththe morose lumens cast from corners of campusthat have at them stationed lighted poles thatglow a chlorine blue, designated lightning rods for fear,bedecked with alarm buttons to run to forpressing, to send sirens out to saviors.When did these lighted poles appear, their beaconsutterly unreachable? Even spied from behindthe windshield, one apprehends a great distancebetween their stars and the bus stop's canopy,beneath which hooded students smoke onlyto disappear into the damp exhaustion of the night.Which is always when the deer appear, ornamentthemselves upon the lawns, frozen in mist,taking on the stance of the startled, now startlinglypale, the four before me equidistant, and onetipping the pitcher of her head as if to pour the grassa drink or, considered upside down, suckle the milkfrom soil or nurse the grass's dew. My bag of booksthrown over my back like a bag of bones, my bagof poems a bag of stones, crushes my shoulderas I wade in mist toward the car, and the deer,who watch me as I watch them, seem a dream'sdecision to find me far outside the room I sleep in.They are an astonishment I do not wish to analyze.And I am certain if I move too quickly they will, spooked,run from me, or I am scared that if I do not run from themthey will stampede the meagerness that is me.The buck tumbling before my headlights.The scrimp of lawn in the mouth of the doe.
Copyright © 2021 by Cate Marvin.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Cate Marvin’s fourth book, Event Horizon, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in Spring 2022. Her previous collections include Oracle (Norton, 2015), Fragment of the Head of a Queen (Sarabande, 2007) and World’s Tallest Disaster (2001). A former Guggenheim Fellow, Whiting Award recipient, and Kate Tufts Discovery Prize winner, she teaches creative writing at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and serves as faculty mentor for the Stonecoast Low-Residency M.F.A. Program. She lives in Maine.
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