White-tailed Deer · Lock 39 Trailhead

White-tailed Deer

by Benjamin Rhodes

I'm sorry to say
the way I know you
best is strung-up
by your hind legs,
the cavity of your body
on display, headless,
skin flayed and peeled
to be cured and stretched
over a wooden stool later.

I'm sorry, your meat
was delicious as a pot
roast, your youth and lack
of fear at death made
the gravy, the potatoes
tender. If you didn't know
better, you might not tell
the flesh in your teeth
was once wild.

And no, I was never the one
with the bow, with the camouflaged
rifle and orange vest. I only ever
perched in boxes nailed to trees
as adventure in imagination, as
play at being higher than my
surroundings. I only ever saw
the way men in my family
treated you through pictures,
only ever pet your neck
as it hung on the wall.

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Traveling Stanzas community arts projects bring poetry to people’s everyday lives through innovative methods and digital platforms.