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This poem is taken from PN Review 265, Volume 48 Number 5, May - June 2022.

Four Poems Nicki Heinen
Deer in Clissold Park

Shapes like spotted play-doh, limbs sticking out in held agency.

Bleary sunset, church spire silhouetted in its frame. The green of the grass phosphorous bright. The stag dips his bejewelled head and nips the grass. Eyes like buttons on a dress shirt.

Only the enclosure can stop the running deer from spilling out into clipped lawns and the gentle canals of the park, and into grey London beyond. If they could run out, they would stop on the rain-soaked tarmac and clip their hooves till the cars dissolved.

She looks so fragile it’s frightening. White spotted and lop-tailed, her blush fur shines even when she is an O in the distance. Up close, she shakes a naked throat and the fringes of her eyelashes collect pollen.

Do the sleeping deer become invisible once there is no-one there? Melting into midnight dew, the trees spread their aged branches. Night birds call. I want to go to the park after it is locked, to see if they are there.


The ocean comes back and back
that sound of shucking, of static
like a ball with pins inside rolling
forever. Warm sand stretches
to the right and to the left
my feet wet with sea
my eyes lit with it
my body sure, head damp
the scent of beach
clean and salty
the sky a queen’s sash
and the sun, the oldest one

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