Robert Wrigley

She wasn’t there when I started playing,

and it’s a song I have not played in a long time

so it requires a little extra concentration from me,

which is why she seems so suddenly just to be —

appearing there in the empty space before

the porch of the shack and looking up

and most of all listening. For deer always listen.

They can hear you lick your lips

fifty yards away, it is said, and I’m reaching

the second time through the chorus now,

which consists mostly of the repeated title,

and “yeah-yeah-yeah.” The thing is,

I’ve slowed the song way down, and I’m finger picking,

not pounding with a pick, and with its couple

of minor chords, it sounds almost like a ballad,

or slow and sad somehow, at least. Even

the yeah-yeah-yeahs I try to work a little extra from.

So, yeah, it occurs to me that, indeed, I am performing

for a deer. And I want her not only to appreciate

the miraculous fact of human music but also of me.

Performing for her, hell. I’m playing

and singing to her, all the while aware —

despite her beauty, her impossibly big brown eyes,

her listening — that it would never work out between us.

It’s a mild day in late autumn. She’s probably pregnant,

I’m older than half the trees around us.

But the look on her face is so intense, so pure

in its regard, that it feels like everything else in the world

has gone to that place everything else in the world goes to

when you are looked at that way, especially

if you’re singing, and the worst thing

that could happen at such a time is for the song to end.

So I keep singing, she loves you, and yeah-yeah-yeah.


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