friday feast: “deer, 6:00 AM,” by sarah getty

I had one of those moments yesterday morning.

I was sitting at my computer, sipping my soy smoothie, reading blogs, answering emails. When I got up to do the laundry, I glanced out the window and saw a deer.

We’ve lived in the woods for over 8 years, but I am amazed every time I see one.  It’s a miracle, a blessing. They’re usually here one moment, gone the next.

When we first built our house, we were surrounded by over 20 acres of woods. A neighbor who had lived here for 30 years told us about the herd of deer, the bobcats, the black snake named Herman who had called these woods home for as long as he could remember. We were very mindful of preserving this unique natural habitat, winding our long driveway around birch, chestnut, oak, and dogwood.

Then a Big Bad Developer moved in and clear cut most of the woods we had grown to love. I hate looking at the backs of those mcmansions instead of trees. But we are thrilled to see the deer, especially since they lost so much of their roaming area.

Yesterday, I actually saw four — two does and two fawns. They lay in our back yard all day, resting, eyelids heavy, ears alert to the slightest sound. Their presence calmed and reassured me. I was honored that they felt safe enough to stay.

Sarah Getty is new to me, but her poem, “Deer, 6:00 AM,” perfectly captures that moment when you freeze in the presence of a deer, and a seemingly inconsequential encounter transports you into an ethereal, sacred space. This particular poem is from her first collection, The Land of Milk and Honey (1996), which was published as part of the James Dickey Contemporary Poetry Series and won a Cambridge Poetry Prize in 2002. 

Though none of my deer had antlers, I did stand a few feet away from one of the does, with only a glass door separating us, as I tried to take a picture. It was a good staring moment.


DEER, 6:00 AM
by Sarah Getty

The deer — neck not birch trunk, eyes
not leaf or shadow, comes clear
from nowhere at the eye’s edge.
The woman’s legs stop. Her mind
lags, then flashes, “Deer at edge
of the woods.” The deer’s eyes, black
and fragile, stare back and stop

her breathing. The breeze drops. Light
shines every leaf. She enters
that other world, her feet stone
still on the path. The deer stands
pat and takes her in. Antlered,
static as an animal —
not a statue, photograph,

any substitute — can be
because it wants to, it includes
her in the world it watches.

(Read the rest of the poem at Sarah’s website.)

Mentor Texts and More is doing today’s Poetry Friday roundup.

If you’re new to Poetry Friday, read this great article by Susan Thomsen. All are welcome to join the fun!


20 thoughts on “friday feast: “deer, 6:00 AM,” by sarah getty

  1. It was definitely a very special, rare day. Usually I get a glimpse here and there. But all day? It’s like they forgave me for cutting down some of their trees!


  2. Welcome, Carrie!
    See lots of deer up your way?
    BTW, What years did you attend West High in NH? My husband’s family all live in Manchester/Bedford. Several nephews attended West High :)!


  3. What a great shot!! I’m a suburban girl, so I get super-excited over squirrel sightings. (Dead possums, not so much. Though they are far more common.)


  4. I’m from Bedford. I’m probably too old to have been there with your nephews, but I graduated in 1989. I have a couple nephews and a niece who graduated from West 1996-1998, I think.


  5. Lovely poem and picture. We have deer that like to wander around here…which is funny since there are houses everywhere the eye can see. Though I’ve never seen one up close. Thanks for sharing this one.


  6. TadMack says:
    Ooh. Like this one. And I love seeing deer — your brain does try to fit them into a tree, and then fizzes for a microsecond before identification… that was really well put!


  7. Re: TadMack says:
    Yes, the brain registers what would be logical right away, then has to quickly make the correct identification. It’s always startling to see deer; you never really expect it, and then, what a great feeling.


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