When I was very young, my
Grandmother forgot me in the garden,
(Hot summer tomatoes, writhing hyacinths)
(Summer strawberries ripe as blood)
(Scalding sweetness behind my eyelids)
And I wandered until I came
To the dead-breath air of a bedroom.
Quilts and civilized wood,
Mirrors, torn paperbacks, pillows stuffed with goose feather.
This was where body after body was made,
The trauma of a bird deleting herself.
But above it was mounted a deer’s head.
Glassy dark eyes.
A mouth set slack, I could see the softness
Of a tongue.
Antlers, pale like bone or else branches.
With raises and roughness,
Childish thoughts wander into gleeful feeling,
Fingers meandering, remembering—
Preservation or the unsalvageable?
The deer, stuffed, undisturbed
Was to me a picture of
Masculine grace and softness, and yet to
Touch him was to be unsatisfied
(The hollowness of a body).