This was a failed poem. I worked at it for quite awhile and wasn’t happy with it at all. So on a whim, I ran it through “Translation Party” and then did some tweaking. Sometimes that helps. This time, I think, it helped a lot.
The original–or at least, the version I finally gave up on:
Deer follow the ways their grandmothers made
beneath the shady trees and through the openings
to brooks and pools, where tender twigs
and grasses grow. Their pointed feet remember.
In winter, neat tracks on the snow
pass between hummocks and roots,
small distances, safe from hooting owls.
The tribes of rodents don’t forget.
When lions hunted in the night
and dangers skulked in every shade,
the paths were set in primate brains.
And still those tracks remain.
and the redone one:
Stoop under the pine-bough shade,
open the door to the swift-growing grass
where grandmothers of deer have flown
like winter rivers. Remember
their pointed feet. Roots track
through the forests beneath
winter snows. Owl, owl,
one calls from far away. Remember
our feathered tribes.
Night hunting beasts
skulk the ancient paths.
Their tracks remain.