seven or eight

              seven or eight
to ‘Aunty’ Wanda Kiel-Rapana, who knows the source of such things

seven or eight i had that dream
that wrenched me in mid-sleep
days or months apart it came a
dream so strong I woke to the
bedroom curtained dawn from it
and shut my eyes again to burrow
back into its forest a dream of
standing in a wood like the stand
of pines down our road but broader
spreading out to the edge of
sleep’s darkness the afternoon sun
coming low through the pines
and i was stood in the dusk
behind one peering round the trunk
at a deer stood there yards away
in a square of gold the shadow timbered
shaft of light at day’s end and the deer was
gold and numinous and scraped the one
forehoof on the dry thatched needles
that clotted the damp underneath
i went from trunk to trunk to draw
near enough to touch its princely
wildness a thing as they say of wonder
yet when i reached the closest
trunk from which I might stroke
the glory of its pelt the shoulder
thrusting down the leg its running
strength it was gone and standing
further on yards away and so I tried
again to near it and to touch it in
the deeper shaft of sun and it was gone
stood yards further on and once
again we played this onward
hunt never closing
and it never ran just
flitted to be elsewhere
in the blink of a cicada’s wing
would come this dream like a
a lucky day without rhyme or
reason this dream i had until i
no longer remembered how to
dream it to know the waking from
it like stumbling onto stones
flattened cold in a winter stream
how you ached in it

this day down the darkening
shaft of years like autumn
fruit in its good time
never green and sooner
it fell to me
that
the deer was foremost
my very self the so close
and so unknowable
and the deer was too
the mystic far
where self
and selfless god
are one and
i am still
seven or eight
and i am
born eleven*

thought about since 1964,
first draft dated february 5, 2015
rewritten several times through
to september 2015
panmure

*i was born on the eleventh day of the eleventh month

2 thoughts on “seven or eight

  1. Hard to know, John. It was a magical one, for sure, the feeling of it so many years later is still as precious as that of one’s own person.

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