American Life in Poetry: Column 713


I love accounts of people meeting up with wild creatures, as in Elizabeth Bishop's great poem, "The Moose," and here's another such encounter from Sonja Johanson, who is from Maine. Johanson's most recent chapbook is Trees in Our Dooryards from Redbird Chapbooks.

Three Deer in Oquossoc

East will take me back. I drive
west. I wend between snowbanks,
until the road delivers me
to a sleeping boat launch.
They stand on the frozen ramp;
watch me with coats that are
better than mine. Ice houses
and snowmobiles edge the distance.
I have to turn around, I say
to them, I went the wrong
way. They stamp and chuff.
No, they tell me, this is the way.

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 Sonja Johanson, "Three Deer in Oquossoc," from Plum Tree Tavern, (2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Sonja Johanson 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.