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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 19, 2016.
About this Poem 

“I knew that ‘Deer at Twilight’ would be an acrostic, but I was surprised by the swerve towards self-recrimination mid-poem. I struggled mightily with the last three lines, until the rebuking voice turned gentler, advising ‘Paint them,’ and the brush (not the speaker) became deer-like.”
—Paula Bohince

Deer at Twilight

Darkness wounds the barley,
etching it with denser clouds. A herd sends its
envoy out to nose the garbage at
road’s edge before creeping into the expanse.
And the rest follow with cheap hunger—
ten at once through the swaying curtain, heads
tipped, disappearing in the dim.
Wrong to think of them as vessels
in which your feelings live, leaping across emptiness.
Light a candle. Entertain pity all evening.
It isn’t the deer’s work to hold you. That isn’t you
growing full in the field. Paint them, your
heaviest brush lavish with creams and blacks,
trembling, timid, before the canvas.

Copyright © 2016 by Paula Bohince. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Paula Bohince. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Paula Bohince

Paula Bohince

Paula Bohince is the author of Swallows and Waves​ (Sarabande Books, 2015).

by this poet

poem
Sheets boiled with lavender, the hard bed.
Handmade eye pillow filled with Great Northerns.
Cactus to the ceiling, orange corsages.
No embarrassment, a calm
that is the opposite of ambition, I think.
Mind like a diary unlocked on the dresser, pages lifting in breeze.
Like those vivid flowers.
Amethyst on a chain