Jeremy Naydler Soul Gardening


Once I saw a nimble deer
after a night of storm
come through my fence,
through flowers and mist,
to drink from my pool at dawn.
A stranger from another world
- all grace and sensitivity -
it stood quivering on my lawn.

A familiar voice admonished me
in words I have come to dread:
'This deer will eat your precious plants
and trample your flowerbeds.
Don't stand and stare -
be vigilant,
and act from common sense.
If you were a proper gardener
you'd drive it off
and then repair the fence!'

From the upper window
where I stood,
I saw how softly on the grass
the gentle creature trod,

as if the bluebells in the nearby wood
had trained it to tread
upon the ground
as one would tread
the unearthly blue sky overhead,
without crushing so much as a whisp of cloud.

How could I drive it away?
I wanted rather to honour its stay,
by light of sun or moon -
this wandering guest
from the wilderness
who would be gone too soon.

And so I watched
as the mild deer stopped
and mildly drank from my pond,
bestowing on my garden
all the blessing of the wild.

Now time has passed and years gone by
since the deer first used to come:
my plants overflow, more precious than gold,
but my garden fences I still dare
to leave in a state of ill-repair.

And from where my fence is broken
an unseen deerpath runs
that leads to a hidden woodland dell,
where windflowers blow and nettles grow,
where brambles stretch and ferns unfurl
and timid little creatures dwell,
and bluebells turning blue.

Into this woodland garden
the wild deer often stray,
and there by light of sun or moon
I too would find my way.