Under the trees they cluster, a small tight group,
nervy, pacing, half in shadow,
waiting for me to make a move.
I say be still. I watch the shadows drift, the mist,
their bodies flecked with soft brown leaves, be still,
but I can see them twitch,
a dark and startled eye, a tail begin to flick.
Their blood is hot, their hooves begin
to stamp a pulse inside my head.
They stamp, the cluster moves as one, sweating, tensed,
ready to spring. I try to soothe them back
too late, one leaps away
now here they come. Running and running,
their hooves a thundering beat around around
the bone hard floor.
All I can do is hide, crouch down, cover my face,
but I can feel their animal breath, chaos runs
with the deer, suffers, won’t be eased
until the wood is smashed to bits, I wait,
dazed, emptied out, I watch them vanish
they are delicate and terrible in the half light.
Louise Warren – ‘A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo’ (2012) and ‘In the scullery with John Keats’(2016) both published by Cinnamon Press. Winner of the Prole Laureate Poetry Competition 2018. Her next pamphlet ‘John Dust’ will be published by V.Press in 2019.