Afternoon of a fawn

I’ll be gone until at least Monday. Happy Decoration Day, y’all.


I watched an indigo bunting on
the topmost branch silhouetted
against the sky: blue
& still more blue. If I told you
all I could see was the yellow of
his bill, would you believe me?


In the bare crown of the elm tree
where a porcupine gnawed all winter,
a hummingbird perches with his back
to an indigo bunting. How odd to see him
sit so still so long, I think, though
his head pivots back & forth the whole
time. The bunting calls & calls.
Could this battered tree with
its foliage like a crazy woman’s skirt
hide two nests? A crow flies sideways,
silent, against the wind.


Putting the chili to simmer, I walked into the dining room and found a bat – some myotis, probably little brown – hanging between the storm windows. The sun shone full on its scrunched up face. I left a note on the table and went for a walk, chased down the unfamiliar whine of 17-year cicadas in the corner of the field, looped into the woods. A hen turkey took off from her nest among the ferns. Looking for the eggs, I found instead a nest in a barberry bush with three naked purple nestlings. A towhee scolded from the next bush. Jesus, I thought, what next? Then cutting back across the meadow I almost stepped on the head of a newborn fawn.

Two hours later when my eight year-old niece returns from town I lead her to the spot, tramping behind me through the thistles in her sandaled feet, too impatient to put shoes on. The fawn’s still there, curled up like a question mark. Its dark eyes blink. We are its first two humans, I tell Eva, this is the first afternoon of its life. Eva explains all about hunters, miming the crouch, the bang, her voice getting louder & louder, pointing an imaginary rifle at its heaving ribs. The wet black nostrils flare & quiver with the strangeness of our scent.

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