Fawn Bones

Fawn Bones



About the book

For Richard Sommer the business of a poem is not to persuade to the truth of an idea or to generalize on experience, but to play with the facts of experience and to play one idea against another. An evocative collection, these are poems that offer, in a variety of emotional ranges, a deep sense of the connections between inter human experience, artistic expression, and the natural world. Sommer serves as a volunteer game warden in the Eastern Townships of Quebec during poaching season, a dangerous, but for him, necessary, undertaking. Fawn Bones is, in part, the result of a poet standing between nature and lawlessness.

About the author

Sommer, Richard

Richard Sommer taught myth and poetry at Montreal's Concordia University for many years, served three decades as a volunteer game warden in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and led a citizens' environmental group in a seven-year battle, ultimately successful, to save the Townships' Pinnacle Mountain from developers. Sommer's previous books include Homage to Mr. Macmullin, Blue Sky Notebook, left hand mind, Milarepa, The Other Side of Games, Selected and New Poems, Fawn Bones, and The Shadow Sonnets. In 2004, Sommer was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and the verse journal, Cancer Songs, has been an important part of his response to this challenge. He lives on a dirt road outside Frelighsburg with his wife of more than forty years, dance improvisationalist, teacher and artist Victoria Tansey. They have three grown children, three grandchildren, and currently three cats.


Early morning grey
mountain fog thickens down
over November field grass

out past a white and brown
clump of stillness
aging men, four of us,

trudge towards.
Our boots soak.
This is our job.

Slim neck, long head
stretch out among
the last green blades

she came to graze
upon. Last night
they got her with

car, light, gun,
left her here
under fine rain

its tiny drops
now glowing poised
at each hair's end.

From the curve
of her soft nape,
a little blood

Her eyes are still
brown and wide
fixed on nothing.

I stand facing
her belly's cream
fur whorled

around four
pink nipples
fawns have sucked.

I grip one ankle
We drag her
across meadow,

grunting swing her up
into a muddy
pickup bed,

wherein two wardens
shall convey her,
lift her off

onto a stack
of other does,
a hundred, maybe.

Back on patrol,
Stan beside me
behind steamed glasses

thinks his own.
Now my hands are on
cold steering wheel,

my breath admits
in a catch of pain
what I still carry away,

still feel:
through wet glove
tendons and the bones

exact shape, exact
sensation in
palm and fingers

as the slim
ankle of
a lean young girl,

a touch lingering for days
(and nights) as if
love left it there,

in my right hand,
this hand,


Sommer's poems often yoke disparate ideas together in ways that are subtle and elusive. He is most effective when firmly rooted in flesh and blood. In one poem he suggests commemorating the highway deaths of animals by putting up little… >>

Canadian Literature

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