The Deer (an excerpt from a forthcoming novel)

What of the deer, Pacific?  Remember when we drew them?  The drawings are in that clothbound book.  The deer just held there like they were made of paper.  Perhaps their instincts tell them to be afraid and their hearts tell them something else.
     Now I watch them, write of them.  I turn the page; they look at each other, the sound of the paper having startled them.  The big one turns his back on me, now lopes away.
     Earlier, I approached them.  I held out my arms and spoke to them and tossed them apples.  They looked at the apples on the grass and would not go near them.  I inched towards the deer, with arms outstretched, and got within ten feet before they fled.
     Now I sit here in the amphitheater of my home, in the open back door.  The gray is lovely, tinted yellow.  A dissolving fog rinses the treetops.  Two crows soar across the screen.  Language goes back and forth between the black birds.
     I wish you were here, Pacific.  We would wait for the deer to gain courage and we would draw them again and try to feed them apples.
     Rain, fog, our wet world adds detail to the day.  The incessant wisp of tires keeps time moving forward.  The rain starts, it stops, never predictable.  Someday you will understand, my son, you will understand how little you know, and your perception will change.
     Where are the deer, Pacific?  How long should we wait?  Should we go find them?
     One time we snuck up on them and got so close we could have hugged them.  When they finally tripped, we were right beside them.  Pacific, they were not as afraid of you as they were of me.  You could have kissed them.  Remember when we got that picture of the fauns kissing?  Were they kissing, or sharing a flower?
     Would you like to live like them, to sleep under a bush, to eat plants out of gardens, to always be on guard, always ready to flee?
      Perhaps they relax when they believe they are alone, and that is why they can be startled so.  We shock them.  Their memories are poor.
     They are right to be afraid.  Their meat is as peculiar in its taste as the animal is beautiful, with its white tail, with its bowed legs, because of its big bulging black eyes.  And the deer can run faster than us and better bear the cold.  The deer is pure in its silent relationship with creation.  The deer belongs in heaven, I think.  Its blood is purple and in a legend was sifted for gold.  Someday, Pacific, I hope to bless with you a meal of venison.
     But never would I harm these deer, for I know them.  In that, in knowing them as neighbors and therefore respecting their existence, I fear lies a terrible truth.  A deer somewhere else, in some hunting forest, seen from afar, that deer I could kill. 
     I knew these deer when they were fawns.  Their white spots betrayed them as they rested under a fir tree.  Kirsten pointed them out to me.  Sunlight was around them, their spots reflecting the light.  It seemed as though they were imagined.  I felt certain they were possessed by angels or saints or children.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug. My name is Sarah. I'm one of your dad's coworkers. He shared some of your writings with me. You are a very good writer. Your words are evocative and your use of detail is very interesting. "The deer is pure in its silent relationship with creation." Great line.