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Anne Cluysenaar


Distant at first – a flash,

gold amongst the green.

How shall I understand

my quest? The gifts received

so far must be left behind.

Now it is only my self

that can take the next step.


In her wild wisdom the hind

sees a soul at the gate,

ready to leave behind

so much, yet it hesitates,

the bow frail in its hand.

She knows her task is to lead

till the spring is reached.


I see her turn and look back

as if beckoning me.

Between us, the forest lies black

but, from a green hill

above us both, day breaks.

There stands the source of life,

the house of light.


Soul loses sight of the hind

as she plunges north.

How dark day becomes! Sea-ice

grinds and the snow falls.

Here, there remains no trace

of her passing. Only within

can soul sense her still.


In the forest, I string my bow.

She must come this way

again, seeking the soul

that seeks her. Day after day

I watch for her secret trail –

a leaf turned here and there,

a warmth in the air.


But she moves on the edge of sight

As if scarcely real,

Teasing the arrow’s flight,

A ray, a shadow, a mere

Flicker, not to be caught

As yet, not yet full-grown,

testing the soul.


Why should I hunt such game?

Better sport to be had

Where others may see and praise

The kill – the skill of my hand.

Why seek to bring down a prize

That I may not keep but must bring

To the house on the hill?


She has led him onto the sands

That shift in the wind.

No one may follow their track.

They are lost to themselves: Nothing

Exists but the pulse at work

In them both – their secret part

In the world’s heart.


Now from the desert springs

A pool where the sky

Dazzles. No mirage, this,

But water sweeter than wine.

Full-grown in her loveliness,

The hind no longer hides.

Her life is mine!


Between them the arrow flies

And strikes its mark.

Never again can the hind

Escape. Close to the heart

Of the hunter the prey is held.

From her foot that arrow is drawn.

She may run no more.


I hold her form in my arms,

Her golden weight.

The hind is mine at last,

Mine to kill and take

Back, if I wish, through the gate,

That others may join in the feast,

Praise my skill and eat.


But, when the life has drained

from the form it holds,

till only mere meat remains,

how can the questing soul

take pride in so common a prize?

It feels its own life fail

with the life of its prey.


How well I recall the day

I first set out!

How I stood at the gate afraid.

How dawn flowed from that house,

till, in its light, the hind

seemed to beckon me, and I

saw her as mine.


Now the hunter's vision has changed.

The life of the hind

is the soul's own life – both came

from the source hidden in light,

and must return whence they came.

This is the end of the quest.

What, then, is death?


At the threshold I lay her down

till the light consumes

her form, her flesh, and now

descending the hill, I too

seem lost –  the city below

a desolate place, where my words

will never be heard.


Yet, as I reach the gate

again, I look back,

and see the fawn at play!

while, from my side, bow in hand,

another sets out on the way.

Soul, light as a fawn,

leaps on through the dawn.





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