When I am no more myself,
will I know what I have become?
What last breath in the mirror
will reflect my passing from this self
to the next, if there be another one?
Does it matter? No, to most of us,
yes, to the lusting soul that seeks,
but what does it seek, I ask myself?
I watch the deer crossing the yard.
Muted, dark against winter trees,
I can scarcely make them out,
let alone understand their wanderings.
If they scare, they raise white flags of tails,
then run, dancing down their tracks,
as light as thistle-down, though the snow
be deep beyond their walk-ways.
I want to see them as they really are,
the original inhabitants of this land that
a scrap of paper, drawn up by a lawyer,
says I own. Nobody owns this land.
It was here before me and will be here
long after me and mine are gone.
Only the deer truly belong, passing
through, each generation similar
to the one before, knowing no lawyers,
holding no legal papers, but aware
instinctively that we are the intruders,
that the forest is their heart and home,
and that they are sole owners of this land.
Click here for Roger’s reading.
Comment: from a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire: “I am no more myself. I have become the fifth of the twelfth.” I bought a book of his poetry (Livre de Poche) from les bouquinistes in September, 1962, when I started the school year in Paris. I picked it up last night, and started reading it again. The result – this little poem and a host of memories that came flooding back as the deer walked through the garden and all was right with the world.