The first deer had large teeth and no horns and
were not afraid.
The first deer did not have enough fear
for the men who needed them
A woman decided to let the men eat
a grandmother decided her deer shall have horns
and be afraid
someone’s mother decided the men shall eat
and shall be feared.
A man thought wolves should be used
to cull the herd.
And we who had been catching water
dripping through stone
in the homes we dug
out of the earth
we licked our long teeth clean
and set to work.
Copyright © 2019 by Abigail Chabitnoy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 4, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
Darling deer, beasts of our love, we are gigantic. Wild,
we wield no pitchfork, no distaff, no broom. Women
are supernatural, but we are more than that—witnesses
to great convulsions of nature. The hunters want to make
us less. Drag us through the fire by our heels to murder
what is witch in us, make fossils of our priestesses. Men
are small and call this power, but it’s just weal or woe.
In the vales and shadows our bodies make, they wed
our girls turned doe, turned woman, then doe, then woman
and we are not these certain shapes but the swift motion
of their shifting. And we are craggy hag’s head cliffs, mist
hanging grey at our chins, the saltwater below and all it must
bear, and what we cannot: men, marriage, massacre.
Copyright © 2018 Caylin Capra-Thomas. This poem originally appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review. Used with permission of the author.