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Doe at Dawn

Monday, July 10, 2006

Driving down a country road June 4, I saw a car pulled over. The driver, a man, was standing by the car, watching a woman, probably his wife, as she tried to catch a fawn. The fawn was bounding ahead of her, clearly in no need of her help. They both looked at me pleadingly, hoping I would stop to help round the little thing up. I stepped on the gas.

People pick up fawns, thinking their mothers have left them behind, thinking they know best.

How could they think a mother forgets her child?

She knows where he is. A story from home, too sad for prose:

Oh, poor doe.
I have been watching for you. You stand, ears forward,
Looking down at your child
Who I stretched out in the meadow only yesterday.
My daughter, her hair fox-red like his
Found him under the willow tree
His legs soft and pliant, body warm
His eye wet, not yet filmed
A cloud of flies working over
where the dogs had rent him open.
The wound was not new.
You had done your best,
Licking away the blood
Offering your milk
Walking slowly as he hobbled.
You drove the dogs away |
Punching them with sharp hooves.

You have stood over him these three days since
In the end, you could not stop the flies.
Young things shouldn’t die
But children often find them
Looking, as they do
for everything.

It is dawn. Your udder bursts with milk.
You must leave him to the flies.
You will remember him
And I will not forget you
For what comfort that may bring.
I send my grief out to you as you turn and bound away
Crashing branches, windy cries
Ringing down the hollow.


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