The Deer King by Rob Lewis


When the story begins: “scientists report…”
we have come to expect bad news;
and to prepare for data.

Only here is an image:
a moose calf behind some shrubs,
her belly, haunches, even her ears studded
with the small, grey swelling balloons of winter ticks
packed tight, side to side at the trough of her body.

Another weak winter fails into spring
and, as we are learning,
too like cold-kill blossoms a monster:
logarithmic, carpet-like, inescapable.


A moose is:

the furthest extent of a form,
a vast deer, surpassing even the elk.
A human being can lay head to toe
in the velvet basket of its antlers.
It is a forest moving through forest
browsing for tender leaves.


“Parts per mission?”
scoffs the senator.
“Show me the parts.
Show me the millions.”

Here, sir. Open the gate
of these branches,
look long.

(c) Rob Lewis
From “The Silence of Vanishing Things”

* What is the natural image you'd like to share with the scientist? Why that one, particularly?

* Begin a poem with the words: "A [name of natural being] is...." Use all your descriptive powers.

* Select an environmental topic you care most about--then write about it in poetry. What do you notice?