In the brambles, a fawn and a spent shell.
Nuzzles blunt metal and hooves paw the dirt.
Eyes that are warm amber,
the morning's maple smell--
boundary of the world.
The ties of your wool hat flap as you kneel
but the brush conceals the dappled fur
then Nothing's there
but a rose-gold pebble and black spoor.
You lie in the hollow the small body left
in hunting season when orphans are made.
In the bracken, your icons
are dull casings.
The woods are full of absences,
the soft pops thudding against live oaks.
A newborn Chinese water deer fits into a human palm
dark-muzzled, dappled, drifting between two realms,
deep uterine sleep, the rustle of seeking feet.
Its tendons, the strings of a violin, lap the droplets
from a knife, warm red rain. Thought is a drinking gourd
for the fawn, a nest molded of astragalus leaves.
Everything strays to a fault, loses the quick scent,
what it came for. A faint struggle in a burlap sack.
Here is the head of the Baptist, indigo river run,
the glass of jealous, nattering gods.
Comes a bridal deer, hung with flowers.
I reek of fries and meat.
The hooves are sharp, cutting the ground
that is ashy and littered with dung.
It draws closer and knocks me into the mud.
I become a faun, staggering into the underbrush.
The deer nuzzles the bruise, kicks again.
Flies swarm my ears, my long-lashed eyes.
The day is a long-drawn breath of heat
spent in the stripping of furred leaves,
the unripe grenades of the conifers.
How I got my wondrous speed.
About the Author: Carol Alexander's poems have been widely published in anthologies and journals. Her chapbook Bridal Veil Falls is available from Flutter Press. Her collection Habitat Lost is now out from Cave Moon Press.