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Poem: Errand

David Baker


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The fawn was
born beneath the hydrangea I had mistaken,
for a year, as a young oak.

I squatted there. No
fear. It lay alone
in the leaves, and at my near touch a tuft

of its skin (you couldn’t
call it
hide, barely fur, still birth-

smeared in smatters
of pale gray spots) –
one tuft of skin quivered, as

though cold.
Even this first day
the doe had gone to find herself

something to eat
in a better yard. Error on
error, a life amasses.

Do you believe
the old poet – not
to be born is reckoned best

of all?
So let’s ask
the bird dog gagging at his chain

two yards over, bloody with boredom.
Ask the night-
black vultures, kettling

over the neighbor’s burn pile.
I had somewhere
to go. I don’t know where, but

how could it
matter, so much, to go?
Smell of snow an hour

before it falls,
then doesn’t. Soft leather
nose of the fawn, wet in my palm

where it nestled its warm
jaw in. To make
a cathedral (I should have stayed) of such things…

reprinted from Scavenger Loop: Poems by David Baker, copyright © 2015 David Baker, with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
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painting of hydrangeas
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