Matthew King


I had a conversation with a deer
this morning. I talked; I hope she listened.
She was still, half in, half out of the clear,
one eye in the shadows. One eye glistened.
I said she’d get herself shot if she stood
there like that, some little alder trees in
front of her. She’d best find a deeper wood
before hearts turned colder with the season.

Suppose her killer’s you. Suppose you’d met
her face to face, the two of you, alone.
Suppose you’ve killed her and you can’t forget.
You have no altar where you might atone.
You have to tell yourself it’s not a sin
to go on, half out of the dark, half in.


Matthew King used to teach philosophy at York University in Toronto, Canada. He now lives in what Al Purdy called “the country north of Belleville”, where he tries to grow things, counts birds, takes pictures of flowers with bugs on them, and walks a rope bridge between the neighbouring mountaintops of philosophy and poetry.