by JE Baker

The doe is dead, devoured by hounds.
Her bones lie by the river’s edge.
Curled small,
small is never long;
her body will grow and cast away the brush that veils her.
Her fair spots will fade with time.
It’s the sparrows that call her to run,
to stretch her legs long and flee.
But the fawn, she listens to the leaves
whispering that it is safe to stay.

I stood at the sink
scratching and scraping until fingertips were bloodied and sore.
As the water ran I thought,
her spine curved like the back of my ear –
her heart in a box.

It’s easy for the leaves to die.
The mantle of dirt shows the way.
Head south,
toward the river;
blood smothers the earth where half-eaten bones are still strewn.
Ash-covered tracks form a trail.
The Huntsman keeps her heart in a box,
to take to his aging Queen.
But from there an iris still watches,
warning her daughter never to stay.

The water was hot
and the steam held a stench like a scream at the back of the throat.
My eyes burned, but I knew
she hadn’t had time to not be timid –
she breaks like the doe.

Hidden, hooves tucked up underneath.
She rises and stamps on the ground.
Look at them,
her feet ashen;
slight and unsteady as they search for a suitable trail.
She won’t fall to the arrow.
The Huntsman thinks she breaks like the doe,
running, her tail in the air.
But the white flag isn’t surrender,
waning fear frees her heart lest she stay.

Some Things I have Learned That I Would Be Much Better Off Not Knowing

by Madeleine J Deerly (1938-2009)

well here I was, facing another locked drawer without a key,
and not just metaphorically, although there is that.
thinking more crap that you accumulated and left me to deal with;
more coins, more stamps, more bills, a neatly
rubber-banded bundle of Publishers Sweepstakes entries
never sent in but saved because god knows why.
all that junk in my basement. a car that no one wants,
cowering in dusty mortification and leaking oil
all over a dozen or so cartons
containing nothing useful as far as I can see.
and I think, oh what a lovable idiot you were, you great big doofus
what a warm and funny simple guy, and wasn’t I lucky
to be the one you loved and left all this mess?
and wasn’t life more interesting and full because you were so careless
about the details, like putting the car title where someone could find it?
and wasn’t I just telling someone the other day
about how none of this mattered because you and I were always
so crazy about each other?
and isn’t it ironic now that I have to pay some guy $65
to drill out this lock and find this little pile of what will turn out to be
love letters from the Polish lady who took care of your mother?
yes, the very one for whom I wrote the glowing reference,
although my intention was not to refer her to you.
to whom was I talking, when I thought I was talking to you?
and just how long did you think it would take
for me to turn this into material?

Dear Harvey

I went to your memorial last Thursday
but you were not there
in your place was an old photo
you on your horse
full head of poorly cut hair
accidentally hip.

The woman spoke about energy, afterlife
and rejoining your ancestors.
While we bowed our heads
you reached into your holster
drew your revolver
and took pot shots.

If you didn’t want your bronzed baby booties displayed in public
you should’ve mentioned it while you had the chance, cowboy.

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