deer print



Small deer:
Clear mud 
Breaks the close mat of grasses and moss,
And says that, for a moment,
“I was here”.



In the cleared field of mud
Ploughed for Spring before the heavy rain
A clear trail
Says “I was here,
And this is when,
And this is the company and direction I was travelling in.”


Note: Walking in to work yesterday, I came across a small print of a deer's hoof, lightly but definitely impressed into a small patch of mud among the grass. Sadly, I didn't photograph it. The photograph here is of what I think must be from a larger deer, and is a print I found when walking back into work this morning, fruitlessly looking for the original. In the classic mistake of researchers everywhere, I had failed to photograph/note the source of a particular quote or inspiration at the moment of discovery, not thinking I would need it later, or not imagining I could possibly forget where I'd found it. Cue the regulation nightmare game of Hunt the Citation.

I realised the value of a photograph when I came to the ploughed field, and the second poem appeared, but by then the print was a good fifteen or twenty minutes behind me, and work called.

The first poem stands alone, and although it speaks about documents (I think that's obvous), it can be read with other meanings; but taken together the two poems are unmistakeably about cataloguing, and how cataloguing radically transforms the information content of a document. Fruitlessly searching for the original hoofprint, which was startlingly articulate, makes the point even more clear. Dogs and at least one other walker had been over the same ground since I passed by yesterday. That unique document may still be alive and well on the surface somewhere, waiting for the right angle of light or the right accident of timing and attention to bring it to life; or it may have been buried or obliterated entirely. In any event it hasn't come into the archive, and it hasn't been been catalogued.