Rough, Bryan takes one
in hand, rubs it with his thumb,
shows me.
A girl too young to kill,
I lift the other with three fingers
and let it roll, cold as a bone
into my warm palm.
It has a velvet skin
that belies
the presence of will underneath.
A red split runs the length of it.
Bryan says,
where the buck began to grind the skin away.

I can see the buck
rutting against
the chestnut tree that fell in the hurricane.
I can see him moving off
to the sweet potato patch,
head and antlers
bowed in what looks like
over the splayed leaves.
Bryan, bare feet planted,
gun raised, aiming.
In the dark, no cry . . .

The agreement between all life—
Come, let me have your body.
Someday, the earth will have mine.

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