Caged

I was trying to remember the name of this poem the other day. Then I put up the rose picture and remembered. I wrote this in or before 2009.

Caged


She was raised in captivity
Wild one
With her family
They knew the ways
Of the captors
Obedience

The call
Of the wild
Was too strong for her

She strained at the lead
Ears cocked
Hearing
All
And distant calls
Those who were free

She was beaten
Shunned
Thrown in solitary
They told her the rules
Over and over

She fought
Lacerating her captors
And herself

Her family
Wearied
Turned their heads away

Chained
She mourned
Isolated

They didn’t watch her
Closely
Any more

She chewed off her paw
Free

They didn’t notice
She growled
When they came near

They threw the meat
From a distance

Her cubs circled
Behaved
To all appearances

“When, mother?” they whispered

She mourned
As the leg healed
Her gait became stronger

The cubs and she
Ran at night
While others slept

At last she tried once more
Mourned
Howled
Cried to the sky
Grief
Pain
And the call of the wild

The family cringed
Pressed their ears
To stop the noise

She rose
And broke the chain
On the cage
That held them

Howled

They turned away
Cowering
In the familiar

Now she rises
Turns
Trots from the compound
Cubs behind

She sets a steady pace
A loping gallop

They do not look back

Someday
The family may choose
To free themselves

But not now

She follows the voices
To freedom
And the unknown

the deer remind me

the deer remind me

the deer are not a metaphor
nor simile
they don’t mean anything
they are in town
because we don’t shoot them
outside the town limits
they are shy

here they cross at the crosswalks
and teach their young
about cars and trucks

the deer remind me

each time I see them
they have no voice
I remember
we think of bambi, gentle
and tragedy of a mother’s death

are deer gentle?
they are strong
fast, we are told hooves can kick
sharp and wound

I sing to deer
when I come across them
almost daily

they look at me
singing, watch me

the deer want to live
as I do too

the deer are not a metaphor
and yet they remind me
to be gentle
and that I am strong
and fleet
and can run when I have to

even when I do not have a voice

fawn call

This starts with my ornithology teaching assistant in college, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

I LOVE ornithology. A generalist class: bird wings, ecology, biology, zoology, physics of flight and they SING! Also we walk around in the woods with the teaching assistants trying to see and hear birds. We memorize their songs and markings.

We go out at night. Our teaching assistant hears a barn owl. He replies. He is an expert at that call. The barn owl answers. After a few back and forths, the barn owl swoops over us, coming to check out the caller! The barn owl is unnerving and gorgeous, passing just over our heads.

We all talk to the birds. We make pshhh, pshhh, pshhh noises and lbbs (little brown birds) will sometimes hop out on a branch, curious about us. Hooray! It’s a warbler!

We practice our bird songs.

Fast forward to the present. I walk with my friend and he is messing with his enormous zoom lens. We see crows harrying something in the top of a tree. A hawk, who calls. I start answering. The hawk is young and calling its parents. It’s the time when the parents say, you have to go hunt. My friend gets an amazing picture of the hawk looking right at us, mouth open, crying. I dig around on my cell phone, and think it’s a Swainson’s hawk. I play the Swainson’s song and then the young hawk REALLY cries: I feel terrible, as if I have teased the young one. Yes, it’s a Swainson.

We run in to two young bucks. I sing to deer. The deer are always alert and ready to run when I appear, but when I sing they just stand and look at me. My friend takes a photograph of the buck, just watching and listening to me.

My friend finds a fawn in his yard. The mother leaves the fawn for 8-24 hours. My friend has a low fence around most but not all of the yard.

The doe returns for the fawn one day. My friend is outside. The mother hops the fence. The fawn tries to, but it can’t hop high enough. It hits the fence and cries. It tries over and over. My friend goes up slowly and opens the gate. The fawn goes out the gate after he backs off. Both fawn and doe look at my friend.

I stop by his house to pick up a package for him. I park and hop out of my car. A fawn behind the fence startles and goes around the side of the house! It’s late afternoon and two fawns and a doe were lying in the shade in the front yard. The second fawn gets up and mom stands. I hold still and sing to them a little. Then I go in through the gate, get the package and slowly get back in my car.

Word gets around. The other day my friend has six fawns in his yard. He’s charmed and a bit shocked. He is outside. A doe comes and calls her fawn. It’s a bit of a meh or ma sound. My friend tries to make the same sound. Three of the fawns eating grass stop. They turn their ears towards him, alert. One fawn walks up to him….

….so now he’s a fawn caller.

 

For the Daily Prompt: gate.

Deer yard

I took this at my aunt and uncle’s, in Covington, Virginia. The deer are adapting quite well to their neighborhood even with new and more houses and people.

I didn’t get a photograph, but they also have a metal cage bird feeder on their porch. Various birds visited, but it is the first time I have seen a pileated woodpecker at a birdfeeder, right on the other side of the glass. Looking like a pteradactyl, really.