Second Half Of The Year Begins

We were waiting for a storm, it was so hot. 
No one had patience for waiting. 
We knew the correct way to break a heatwave - one needs a storm, preferably heavy.

We were luring the cloud, the wind, the rain, like this:
Stand, hold the heat in your baked head, feel it drum.
Feel it slide into your eyes, down each limb till you are slick with it.
Till you are salt-squinty, agitated, percussional storm bait.
The storm will sense you.
It is drawn to heat, to throb, to windows open, to sighs and brow wiping and dogs flopped in shade.

It had seemed to be working: a tongue of mist sneaked out from the sea.
It took the salt, the desperation.
Night came and the windows stayed open for the bliss of cooling down.
As the curtains bellied out, we dropped to sleep.

The storm had broken elsewhere.
We watched the sky anyway, in the morning, holding cold brewed coffee, feeling rested.

And I found myself thinking about the deer again; sad, profound. Too sad, perhaps, yet it happens. I wasn’t going to write of it but it won’t leave my mind. Then I wasn’t going to share it: same persistence.

So, here it is-

At the side of the lane, as I’m driving, I see a red setter dog lying, head alert, seemingly taking a rest. It’s large for a dog. Too large - it is not a dog at all.
A smallish deer, a young one.
It has antlers no bigger than my hands.
I slow the car. The animal holds still, angled out from the edge; the car won’t fit around it, so I stop and open the door and then the deer panics.
Its back legs slip useless under it. A wound on its lower back bleeds profuse: postbox red, thick as paint.
From the car, I call for help. Put the phone down, step out of the car, walk soft, keep a distance.
I don’t wish for it to bolt again.
Little deer, I say; infused with calm; I am not come to hurt you.
The road is hot and dry.
Splayed against the opposite edge now, the creature turns and stares at my face.
The sun strikes right into its eyes, they are coloured glass, cloudy rainbows.
Can it see me? I feel seen.
I am not sure I can help, I say, but I am not come to hurt.
I hold out my dress to make shade. It lies its head in the shadow, looking at me. I want to sit down, put its head on my lap: one should not do that to a wild thing. It is stilled by fright. By a lack of choice. By some cruel accident here it is, half perfect, half destroyed.
Birds sing. No cloud in the sky.
This has happened, I say, this is all I can think to do for you. All we can do is stay calm, I think. Not add to the fear.
Blood, thick as wax, rolls away.
It is quiet.
I hold out shade.
I am seen.
I will dream of you, I think; I will see your eyes shining. I will hear your hooves run; for I never locked souls with a wild thing like this, it will have an effect.


Geo. said…
Thank you for this. It is one of the most moving pieces I've ever read. It speaks to the part of us that teaches us to be human.

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