Hayden Carruth

I Know, I Remember, But How Can I Help You

The northern lights.         I wouldn’t have noticed them
   if the deer hadn’t told me
   a doe         her coat of pearls         her glowing hoofs
                     proud and inquisitive
                     eager for my appraisal
and I went out into the night with electrical steps
   but with my head held also proud
                     to share the animal’s fear
                     and see what I had seen before
   a sky flaring and spectral
                     greenish waves and ribbons
and the snow         under strange light         tossing in the pasture
   like a storming ocean caught
                     by a flaring beacon.
   The deer stands away from me         not far
                     there among bare black apple trees
                     a presence I no longer see.
   We are proud to be afraid
                     proud to share
the silent magnetic storm that destroys the stars
                     and flickers around our heads
   like the saints’ cold spiritual agonies
                     of old.
I remember         but without the sense         other light-storms
   cold memories discursive and philosophical
                     in my mind’s burden
   and the deer remembers nothing.
We move our feet         crunching bitter snow         while the storm
   crashes like god-wars down the east
                     we shake the sparks from our eyes
   we quiver inside our shocked fur
                     we search for each other
   in the apple thicket—
                     a glimpse, an acknowledgment
   it is enough and never enough—
we toss our heads         and say good night
   moving away on bitter bitter snow.