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I ask my coworker what kind of animal I would be and she says "deer"

by clara bush vadala

without thinking—wretched,

the deer I should have been

is lying motionless and covered

in ticks near the road side.

I am not the fawn lingering

near its dead mother, or, am I

the mother? Or, am I the crow

screeching in the pecan tree

for its piece. I can’t make sense

of it. And so, I start the incantation

to resurrect the deer. Remember

my friend who carries a pistol

in her glovebox on long trips?

The bones are already silvering

like the tip of it smoking over

a brief patch of snow in the road.

The hide is already growing

mushrooms, insects candied

in its clotted blood. Tip toeing

down beside it, I think of the soft

inside of the ear, and sing toward

the tiny hairs we all acquired

as we were born. The ticks start

to crawl away, or, I cut them away

with a spoon-like instrument,

and needle them to a board

for examination later. Or maybe

put them in formalin. Oh, the maggots

definitely go in jars. If I could

just reach inside without a knife,

I would curl myself into it, a costume

of what I’m supposed to be. Deer—

wretched and wanting to get back

to the earth—me ready with the

epinephrine—I’ll give you three

choices. Fight, fight, or fight?


Clara Bush Vadala is a poet and veterinarian from Van Alstyne, Tx. Her work has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, Barren Magazine, and Okay Donkey among other places. She has published two collections of poems "Prairie Smoke" (2017) and "Beast Invites Me In (2020).


Image by Bree Anne
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