Deer Season

By Elizabeth Cohen 


Early Bow

fire-spiced wind, shadow paths
distant reports
shudder and holler out the valley news
what is it about autumn
the spilled mustard light
buck droppings littering the scape



over the loon hills
they find the shy ones


Youth hunt

chewing gum, boot crunch
wrinkle wrappers untethered
sunrise or in the whisper thick
dusk and still coming hard
against regulations



scent of black steam powder


Regular season

but then, what is “regular”?
a solemn tree speaking to the moss
funeral dirge for the doe
mother of generations
pierced and spilling
guts, blood and the remains
of an unborn fawn, half eaten by crows


Adirondack early season

season for shadow napping; nibble and pivot season,
breeding season, season for birthing in the tree-deep brush
ripe berries season and first grass carpet grazing stealing roots
season, it is always leap year for deer, sipping from rain pockets
on the leaves, season for dying


Semi-automatic season

by the time you read this, it will be happening somewhere new
the shutter quick splatter shots
spraying down of the whole of everything
first step to wedding vows
graduation days, birthdays, quinceañera, your cousins Bat Mitzvah
the summer concert series
the 4th of July
even the wheelchair ones
teenagers in their sweats and bralettes
it is semi-automatic season in America
the moon blinks back, half or full, new or
blood, black or harvest, watching
like a torn eye

you got Sylvia, you got Dan
you got Ernestine and baby Anderson
you got the whole Smith family
out for ice cream
you got them
you got you got you got you got you got
got got got got got
spent cartridges on the floor of the bar, fair, synagogue
church, school, market, big box store, the garlic fair
each one a funeral card with someone’s name:
Joyce, Hunter, Thelma, Ben, Serendipity
Dylan, Claudia, Pauline, Rufus
names fall like leaves, flutter down

It’s AK-47 season,
AR-15 season,
It’s human season
all day, every day
In Dayton, 36 down in 30 seconds,
the names piling up
and then, later, when they are swept away


About the Author

Elizabeth Cohen is associate professor of English at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, where she teaches creative writing. The author of five books of poetry, most recently, The Patron Saint of Cauliflower, she holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University. The poem “Deer Season” is from her new manuscript, Apocalyptica.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

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