You are the late offspring of the last universal ancestor living by staid American suburbs where well-manicured lawns swallow the woods like summer fires dashing through grass.
“If you are a deer, why should your head hang on a wall?”
“If you are a woman, why should your mind play ingénue?”
Lost on a Southern plot where people’s indifference does not deflate your fear, your soundless ennui blooms in the spring like jonquils.
“Should you try a contact call? A grunt?”
“Not if you walk at the end of a leash.”
At night, your coat turns blue under the woodlot’s crown. The moon drapes her fluid fingers around your ears and summons the spirit of the forest in yellow words. You hear each sound, but you don’t understand them together. A failed deer, you jump over painted chain link fences, flash your white tail in surrender when they run amok.
If you turn your back to the crowd forever, a green brush stroke on your neck recalls the foliage. Reduced to a set of discrete planes, you are the expression of the 21st century on a wall. Fragmented.
Note: “Deer in the Forest II” originally appeared in North American Review 301.2 but was improperly formatted. The editors offer sincere apologies to Brigitte Byrd and publish the poem here in its correct form.