by Ella Q. Peavler
I don’t know why I worry that I’ve disturbed
the doe. Maybe because she looked as if she only slept,
curled in her makeshift nest,
a tangle of tawny-colored husks
that covered the wedge of flesh
missing from her back. Maybe, too, it was because
when my sandaled foot burst through
the ivory of her ribs,
life briefly returned to the cavity of her chest,
pouring in through the clean-cut fatal wound
on her back. I didn’t see her as I walked —
I only felt the bend and break of bone underfoot,
fell and dropped the persimmons I’d picked
in the orchard that night, sending the vibrant
splatter of overripe fruit across the earth.
At eye level, her body lies huddled
in the flattened cornfield, the gentle point of her face
tucked to the once-warm crook of her leg.
A blanket of brown leaves shrouds her,
a color so close to that of her fur
she might’ve thought it perfect for cover.
The combine reaped its harvest three days ago.
Folks like to think there is nothing to say about death
when we see it like this, nothing more than
These things happen — sleepy deer go to rest
between the rows of stalks — These things
happen. I thought it was a deflection
of blame, like there was nothing to do.
But when I look at my ankle, and see the trickle
of blood from where the splinter of bone
cut me, I think I must have missed the words unspoken,
These things happen: and someday will happen to you.