My wife looked out upon a single fawn
that gnawed, unaware, at the hedge
beside the rock garden on this first day
“There’s something wrong with one of its legs,”
she told me with a frown. As it grazed its way
to the yew bushes along the front walk, I could
see that she was right.
The deer was young, a few months old at best,
from its size, left hind leg hobbled a bit by
what seemed a tumor that shackled her
to her fate.
The fawn foraged in solitude amid a carpet of
snow, cast out perhaps from the herd to fend
alone all predators, to ward off the dark, to
die at last a solitary death and take with it
the blight it bore.
Was this the lone deer we saw below our
bedroom window two nights past, feasting
on the birdseed I had scattered beneath
the feeder? We’d thought it odd to see
She’d stood, legs splayed, nearly genuflecting
as she fed, the nap of her young fur smooth
and gleaming in the moonglow. We hadn’t
noticed in that swath of silver light the knob
that hobbled her, her outcast plight.
As the shadows lengthen on this longest night,
I’ll seed again the snow beneath the barren ash,
will scatter far and wide the feed to brook the
coming darkness, the feeble light.
Thomas D. Kersting