The Beasts of Coole Park

by Thomas Rabbitt

Their hearts have not grown old…

                                                 — W. B. Yeats


Like a wolf with wings I will circle back
Through a wet December dawn to the deer
Racing the high walls of their asylum.
These survive: the two does and the buck,
The green silence, the soft rain, and the fear
Like the ghost of a house where not one room
Still stands and none of those whose words could break
The wild heart still lives to open a door,
To breathe one bright syllable of welcome.
Like a wolf with wings I have circled back
Through the empty park to the frightened deer.
Their wild eyes bleed and scream, their wild hearts drum
Like great wings beating still, like the white birds
Who could bring back dead souls or lovely words
Were madness merely a matter of will.

                                        —from Prepositional Heaven (River City, 2001)

The author of several books of poems—including Exile (1975), The Booth Interstate (1981), The Abandoned Country (1988), Enemies of the State  (2000), and Prepositional Heaven (2001) — Thomas Rabbitt has retired from his teaching career and currently lives and writes in Tennessee.  In 1972, he founded the MFA program in creative writing at The University of Alabama.  In Fall 2004 NewSouth Books will release American Wake: New & Selected Poems.

selected by Dan Albergotti