The Antlered Doe

R. Cassandra Bruner

A man doused in roebuck piss says
I saw it as I skinned its thighs
& laughs.

Your death always a joke, the shock
of womb, a punchline.

Darting through the underbrush,
even your hooves resounded like cackling children.
This velvet crown was not always a betrayal—

In rutting season, the tongues
of stags & doe alike climbed
your hind leg, crying
I opened for my beloved but she was gone.

But now is the hour of moths.
Now the body remade as
a sack of buckshot.

A child wraps you in a bundle of sweat-stale
flannel, lifts you onto the truckbed
like a distant sister.

Nestled against your snout, he mouths
a wish for recognition, for his budding breasts
to hide themselves away like fawns.

 

Art by Maggie Nowinski.

R. Cassandra Bruner was born and raised in Indiana. Currently, she is an MFA poetry candidate at Eastern Washington University, where she works as the managing editor of Willow Springs Books and the web editor for the literary magazine, Willow Springs. Winner of the 2017 Montana Book Festival Emerging Writers’ Contest, her work has previously appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Pleiades and Vinyl.