In Deer Country

Whitetail posing for her glamor shot. Photo: Acorn Resorts, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Deer were not a common sight when I was a kid, but over the decades, second growth forest has filled in a lot of former farm land and their population has burgeoned. Derided by some as “goats by Gucci,” I still welcome their company in my neck of the woods.

In Deer Country

Looking between the icicles that dangle
from the northern eaves, I see new snow
bearing only the tracks of one lone doe
who walked between the deadfall debris
of last week’s windstorms–who crossed
the road, circled the yard, crossed back.

Nothing here to eat, since the dying apple
failed to bear this fall, and the cedars are
already cropped back high as deer can reach.
My neighbor used to leave bales of hay out
for them, but only so he could drop a buck
without ever going off of his back porch.

On my road, tucked between woods and water,
cars cull more of the herd than  hunters.
One yearling popped my airbags just down
the hill. I found a dead buck out back who
lived to take a few last leaps after being struck.
Trucks roll over in the ditch to avoid them.

Despite the downside to yard, garden and auto,
I like having deer around. Once, two bucks in rut
cracked it out in my backyard as three does watched
from the edge of the woods, waiting for the victor.
Another time a doe leaned against the apple tree,
staggering drunk from eating fermented windfalls.

I like it when I don’t notice them (galumphing ape
that I am), until they startle my heart, bounding off
from beside the trail, tails raised like middle fingers
as they slalom between pines and birches away.
They need no better excuse to be than beauty
and they make for better company than many.

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