by ELLIE ROGERS
I chose to live alone, no one to turn
over to in the night. Instead, dream
sediments greeted me each morning.
Rain’s trapped remains, stippled
with sulfur and leached foundation,
slipped up my pipes. I showered
in rust-water from the well.
Nearby, a deer ambled and sipped.
One hoof clicked rock, stepped next
into nothing. The doe fell down.
Her flanks scraped into dark.
So she wouldn’t drown, men
in uniform shot her, then left her
limp body to breathe in the meadow.
When she woke, her sea legs groped
for steady ground. She bolted
toward forest. Her hooves looped
cursive under the cover of woods.
As she fled, guilt filled me.
I would re-cover the well.
That night, I searched the tree line
for her hide, tan among branches.
That night, I dreamed a birch grove,
paper strips hiding her white tail:
a vision trick to trip predators’ pursuit.
I prayed snow sloughed off callous sky,
the doe with no limp. Unbound speed.
No white flag, no letter of surrender,
but an open scroll made of solid water.
I dreamed her inscribing invisible ink
I’d uncover tomorrow: tracks of her
escape through blizzard-laced branches.