Archive for the ‘Robert Frost’ Tag
Driving home down Alpine Highway, a busy road for a quiet town, I stopped when I saw a young mule deer standing at the side of the road. She stood shaded from the mild heat of the late September sun, under the branches of an apple tree that grew along the sidewalk. When we stopped, me and my little passengers, she looked at us with her big black eyes. She didn’t dart away, or even flinch. Instead, she bent her head down to the apples scattered at her feet and took another mouth full.
We watched until we started to worry her. When her ears began to twitch — her large, quivering ears — I lifted my foot from the brake and we rolled slowly away. On our way home my eight year old told us, “If my art teacher had seen that deer he would want to draw it or paint it.”
I had just been treasuring the scene up in my mind, thinking how I would describe it in words. “I want to write about it,” I said. I started to describe the doe to them — the way I pictured her in my mind with the velvety softness of her ears.
My eight year old interrupted me. “How do you know its ears are soft?” He wanted to know. Not to be smart — well, maybe a little, but mostly it was just a part of his habitual fact checking. I had to laugh. He was right. I didn’t know what the doe’s ears felt like. I could suppose, but I couldn’t presume to know. It’s an important distinction. As soon as my writing pretends to know something, tries to make it say more than it can or should, it sounds false. What a great little editor he makes.
I never did sit down and write about my apple-picking mule deer. But I did find this poem by Robert Frost about another grazer taking advantage of September’s surplus:
Something inspires the only cow of late
To make no more of a wall than an open gate,
And think no more of wall-builders than fools,
Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools
A cider syrup. Having tasted fruit,
She scorns a pasture withering to the root.