The deer is humble, lovely as God made her
I watch her eyes and think of wonder owned
These strange priests enter the cathedral of woods
And seven Marys clean their hands to woo her
Foot lifted, dagger-sharp—her ears
Poised to their points like a leaf's head
But the snake strikes, in a velvet arc
Of murderous speed—assassin beautiful
As mountain water at which a fawn drank
Stand there, forever, while poison works
While I stand counting the arms of your Cross
Thinking that many Christs could hang there, crying.
Kenneth Patchen, “The Deer and the Snake” from Collected Poems. Copyright 1939 by Kenneth Patchen. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: Selected Poems
(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1957)
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