Karla Van Vliet: The Doe

After three days on the hunt
he pulls up his white pick-up
into the yard. I hear him
from the kitchen,
truck spitting like an old man.
Hear the engine cut,
the door slam.
I finish washing my supper dishes,
dry them,
before I go to the window.

He’s slipped the rope
that binds her back legs
through the barn’s pulley,
has hoisted her off the truck.
Her back arched,
the slit of her belly
opens to him.
Her slender carcass
leaves a brown mark
against the red leaves
of the far hillside.
He lifts her head,
I think he means to kiss
her brown eyes shut,
then strokes the hull of her frame,
walks back to his truck,
starts it up.
At the end of the drive
he turns toward town.

I go to bed.
Late, I hear his belt buckle hit the floor,
springs grate beneath his body.
I turn my weight away
from his whiskey mouth.
He has spoiled the safety
of sleeping alone. I have learned
to fear what he calls love.
When I wake the light dwells
in the bent hay of the uncut field.
His body has managed its way against me.
It feels my stirring

and now has laid me on my back,
his mouth on mine,
stale taste of barley,
the fetor of iron.
His thick coarse fingers
take hold of my breast.
His nails are outlined with the blood
of his precious doe.
His other hand has entered me,
the blood of the doe has entered me.
I fracture from groin to breast bone.
He fingers my openness, my wound.
I once loved this man.
He empties me.
My body endures the cold.

Outside all that is left of the songbirds’ cries
is the who who who of the mourning dove.

Tags: , , ,