We cannot know its pilfered head
with velveteen antlers. And yet its hide
is still imbued with heat from inside
like a living thing, though now it’s hours dead.

Otherwise the steam would not still rise
from the neck’s stump; the blood pool wouldn’t grow
in a widening ring like a red-black halo
on the leaves before my and my father’s eyes.

Otherwise our nostrils wouldn’t flare
with hate so fresh and mournful, as the deer’s
must have flared when the poacher’s shot rang out;

when the bullet split the morning air;
when from the woods the deer’s death caught our ears.
We drag it homeward: silent, sick, devout.

Rosalie was from
Samoa. Each hour she’d float through
to check the screens and hum
some Air Supply. A bar or two

would lull me back to sleep.
“Lonely Is the Night” felt apt—
the silence between each electric beep
still as the meat that held me trapped—

though Dad dozed there in his chair.
When I would moan and whinge,
the throbbing more than I could bear,
Rosalie had her syringe.

I loved her voice like cream,
her chemicals that sang me to dreams.

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