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.


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