Fawn's Foster-Mother

By Robinson Jeffers

The old woman sits on a bench before the door and quarrels
With her meagre pale demoralized daughter.
Once when I passed I found her alone, laughing in the sun
And saying that when she was first married
She lived in the old farmhouse up Garapatas Canyon.
(It is empty now, the roof has fallen
But the log walls hang on the stone foundation; the redwoods
Have all been cut down, the oaks are standing;
The place is now more solitary than ever before.)
"When I was nursing my second baby
My husband found a day-old fawn hid in a fern-brake
And brought it; I put its mouth to the breast
Rather than let it starve, I had milk enough for three babies.
Hey how it sucked, the little nuzzler,
Digging its little hoofs like quills into my stomach.
I had more joy from that than from the others."
Her face is deformed with age, furrowed like a bad road
With market-wagons, mean cares and decay.
She is thrown up to the surface of things, a cell of dry skin
Soon to be shed from the earth's old eye-brows,
I see that once in her spring she lived in the streaming arteries,
The stir of the world, the music of the mountain.

please note: photo by Arthur Durkee


  1. Oh my, what a lovely image I got from this.

  2. Wow! What an intriguing piece. And I LOVE your Mancake. He is the reason I watch Dancing with the Stars lately!

  3. Why, she must be mother earth.

  4. Wonderful. "Thrown up to the surface of things." oh yes. Thank you.

  5. Oh my--a cell of dry skin soon to be shed from the earth's old eye-brows. That stays with me.

  6. There must be something in the blogwater lately, there are a few of us that have old age related posts up.. perhaps it's something to do with spring and the fact that, in youth, we feel the urge to face age and vice versa.. this is beautiful, thank you!

  7. For all of us who love words and what can be done with them, thank you.

  8. Hmmmm...conjures memories of when I was in a babysitting coop when my3 wee ones were 5 and under and I had some mom's baby while she ran an errand and she ran late and the baby was starving and everyone was getting frantic and. . .

    Fabulous poem. Thank you!

  9. That Robinson Jeffers must have known something of what he wrote. I love his descriptions of the old woman and have seen her in my life. "Her face is deformed with age, furrowed like bad road..."
    Now the trick will be not to add that into my charting:>)
    And Mr. Mancake...very easy on the eyes. AND he can dance. Very delectable as Bruno would say.

  10. Wonderful poem. Moving descriptions and vignette.


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