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There is no path within this forest,
that human feet have not soiled.

At the end of a road,
I came upon a snow-filled field
adjacent to a frozen forest.
The snow was knee-deep, pearl-white and squeaky-clean.

Not a trace of soot, salt or sand,
not even a deer hoof print
or a rabbit foot track,
pierced the earth’s white envelope.

At the edge of the forest,
I came upon a newly fallen tree
stretched across the icy stream.
I crossed onto a path that led me to a clearing.

There stood a buck,
gaping wound oozing life,
dripping blood into the white snow,
brown hide stained bright red.

Turning his head toward me,
weary eyes staring into mine,
he stumbled, tumbled and fell.
I edged close to his side.

The deer seemed to talk to me with his eyes.
“I cannot understand why,” he said,
I have a wife and children.”
Then, he breathed out the last vapor of his breath.

Woodstock, New York
December 29, 2002