One Deer

My friend is gone,
Having slipped from this world,
Crossed over,
Gone home.

Everyone says death
In a way
That makes it about life.

Not an end
But a passing.

I think about this
As I try to fall asleep
With my daughter, exhausted by grief,
Lying beside me.

Lying awake,
I hear Dylan Thomas
Telling me in that pristine recording
After the first death
There is no other.

There is not.
Death is a lesson
In defining absence
And redefining presence.

I wonder about this
As I walk my dogs in the rain
And the damp air
Combines with the bark
Of a white oak,
Straight, tall, strong,
And claims a universe of space
Full of safety, shade, and squirrels in summer
And full of  promise now.

Moisture and the oak
And the fallen white sky
Take the shape of a young deer
That steps softly before my dogs
Onto our path.
Here I am.
The dogs watch.
I watch.

The deer steps forward
Into the rain
Steps forward again
Steps forward and returns to the woods.
The dogs watch.

This is not a sign.
This is not my friend
Who is dead.

This is life
In the silence of the woods.

The dogs know it

And I am learning.

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