American Life in Poetry: Column 573


Philip Terman is a Pennsylvania poet who, with his family, lives in a former one-room schoolhouse. And whenever there's a one-room schoolhouse you can count on just a little wilderness around it. This is from his new and selected poems, Our Portion, from Autumn House Press. 

Deer Descending

Perhaps she came down for the apples,
or was flushed out by the saws powering
the far woods, or was simply lost,
or was crossing one open space for another.

She was a figure approaching, a presence
outside a kitchen window, framed
by the leafless apple trees, the stiff blueberry bushes,
the after-harvest corn, the just-before-rain sky,

a shape only narrow bones could hold,
turning its full face upward, head tilted to one side, as if to speak.

I want my life back.

Morning settles around her like a silver coat.
Rustling branches, hooves in flight.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Poem copyright ©2015 by Philip Terman, Deer Descending,” from Our Portion, (Autumn House Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Philip Terman and the publisher. 
Introduction copyright © 2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.