The deer they said would be there at dawn
never appeared
but the dawn mist instead.

Always something instead
like the little brown pebble on the porch
that turned out to be a frog.

Things that arrive on their own
like the domed Conestogas of afternoon cloud,
fat as senators from Mississippi.

How there is always a truth, and then underneath that
another somehow
more elusive truth  —

All before the pell-mell education of dying
when things will be fast but at the same time slow,
like the loud dripping of a clock.

Instead of the quiet you never noticed
hailstones of rain on the roof,
after which you could hear the wind.

So praise instead;
praise the word instead like a treetrunk
that falls across your path.

Like a bridge that leads
away from your destination.

You had expected to be dead by now,
or living in New York.

Mist suspended above the meadow:
pale and gauzy, in rumpled sheets;
where you have come with so much readiness.

Anthony Hoagland is an American poet and writer. His poetry collection 2003, What Narcissism Means to Me, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Other honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, and a fellowship to the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His poems and criticism have appeared in such publications as Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Agni, Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, Ninth Letter, Southern Indiana Review, American Poetry Review, and Harvard Review.