“Through The Trees I See” and other poems by Nancy Dunlop

Through The Trees I See

Three baby deer play tag
on our property, darting
around and against each other, very
cheerful, very invincible during this cool
September morning, just as the light
breaks through and day
remains smudged and the grass is still
wet. That moment
right before the quivering world
dies down, hardens, grows
relegated to the edicts
of the day, the transiting
sun.

But those running babies!

Free of all of this change,
running unencumbered
by anything that came before,
anything that will come soon enough.

Life unwraps herself.
She has a way of happening around us.

Little deer. Little deer. Let this be enough.
Let this be all that is
and ever was.


Once in a Blue Moon

Say you are standing in just
the right place
Just right
Just so
Just this once
in the night. The moon is full.
Say it drops from the sky,
landing softly on your forehead.
Say it enters you, and you find you are
altered. Moon-like.

Say you get to be the moon
rising big and round,
poking up from a horizon,
transiting in an arc
through the black sky,
your light so bright
it dims all stars in your wake.

Higher and higher you go,
and then the slow descent
before slipping
into another horizon.

During your journey,
in your round beam
all that was hidden in darkness
is revealed.

Would you want this?
This much seeing?
Could you stand such a thing?


Frida Kahlo Pierced by Arrows

(based on the painting, “The Wounded Deer” by Frida Kahlo)

In the painting, in dream, in the deep
forest, Frida runs, little deer, on four
spindly legs, four tiny hooves. Blood runs
from nine holes in her hide, nine arrows, but she,
strong one, shows no sign
of falling, she
moves. Her hooves strike the mossy floor,
Bing, Bing, Bing, like bells. We do not know
where she was, where
she is going. She does not tell us.
She does not speak
at all. Her face rises pristine
from this bloodied deer body, antlers
grow from the sides of her head, blending
with the tree limbs lining her path. Her gaze
is directly at us. We feel horror, pity,
perhaps even identify, but she
cares not. Her eyes neither
give, nor receive. There is no
comfort here. What we refuse
to see, she reveals.

She is the moment
between piercing and pain.


Frida Kahlo in Bed

At her most sick, her greatest hour,
She is pinned on her back in her bed, painting
everything she can reach, the length
of her paintbrush proclaiming
her mighty circumference: The canvas
rigged above her pelvis, the bed canopy’s
underside billowing with color, her
fingernails, her eyes, her hair dotted with flowers,
her neck strewn with beads, flashes
of light and gleam, even
her body cast, molded to her ribs: This too,
she paints and brings to stirring life.
Viva la Vida! Long Live Life! Visaged through
a haze of morphine, striving for
kisses, for more pure sex, glistening
sticky touch. Not going
down without a fight. A beautiful
fitful fight. “I am disintegration,” she says.
And we say back, “You are the strokes
of the brush that makes
the world the world.”