poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Born in Berwyn, IL on January 27, 1943 after growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Sarah Getty graduated from Stanford University, and has a PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a Poet in the Schools, has led creative writing workshops for the Bedford Center for the Arts and the Bedford Free Public Library, and teaches the writing of poetry and fiction in her living room.

Sarah’s second book of poems, Bring Me Her Heart (Higganum Hill Books, 2006), was released to critical acclaim. Her first collection, The Land of Milk and Honey (University of South Carolina Press, 2002), won a Cambridge Poetry Award in 2002.

In 2004, she also received the New England Poetry Club’s Barbara Bradley Award. Her poem “Ciphers” has been set to music by Adam Grossman. Anthologies carrying Sarah’s work include Birds in the Hand, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004). In July, 2006 she lead a poetry workshop as Poet-in-Residence at the Villa Vergiliana near Naples, Italy.

She lives in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Deer, 6:00 AM

Sarah Getty, 1943
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.
She notes its coat, thick, stiff
like straw, with a straw-like shine.
There, where the ribs are, she sees
no rise or fall of breathing.

She breathes, shyly, attempting
the etiquette of quiet.
She goes over what she knows
of antlers, those little trees
of bone, grown for a season
and shed like leaves.  The deer's head,
she thinks, is hieroglyphic,

eyes of wet ink, unblinking.
No golden links clasp the neck—
no deer of Arthur's this, sent
as a sign.  The woman finds
and fingers these few deer-thoughts
in her mind.  But she's no match
for its stasis, she hasn't

the tact.  Tableau, entrancement—
but what's the second panel
of the tapestry?  She moves,
not back, discreetly, as one
would leave a king, but forward,
to have it done.  To free (or,
less likely, fall on one knee,

										

petitioning).  The deer moves,
smooth as a fish, is gone.  Green
edges waver and reknit.
The light shifts.  The woman, two-
legged still, walks on.  "I saw
a deer," she will say, pouring 
coffee.  Not "I was."  "I saw."

From The Land of Milk and Honey, by Sarah Getty, published by the University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Sarah Getty. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From The Land of Milk and Honey, by Sarah Getty, published by the University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Sarah Getty. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Sarah Getty

Sarah Getty

The publication of her second collection of poems brought Sarah Getty much critical praise and nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

by this poet

poem
A round white troll with a black, greasy  
heart shuddered and hummed "Diogenes,  
Diogenes," while it sloshed the wash.  
It stayed in the basement, a cave-dank
place I could only like on Mondays,
helping mother.  My job was stirring
the rinse.  The troll hummed.  Its wringer stuck
out each piece of laundry
poem
Look! A flash of orange along the river's edge--
"oriole!" comes to your lips like instinct, then
it's vanished--lost in the foliage,

in all your head holds, getting on with the day.  
But not gone for good. There is that woman    	
walks unseen beside you with her apron
  
pockets full.  Days later, or years,
poem
sits with a small smile, watching  
two speckled frogs or lizards run right 
and left, apart, together 

on long legs bendable as rubber. 
He doesn't bend down, looking,  
or sway to keep up with their scuffles,   

but sits immobile, his eyes
icon-sized but lidded, following 
those mottled creatures.  Bow-tied