T.E. Ballard


Deer wandered in my father’s store
on the backs of men, their tongues hanging
as hunters held their dripping heads
counted horns, unless it was a doe
then they’d stop, spread her legs, talk of tender meat
rest a tired hand on the inside of her thigh.

The first time I touched the fur of my body,
my fingers slipped easily into the folds.
I remembered the men, their dark coats, how a knife

removed the last bit of skin, the gentle bend of bone.
Soon I would be hunted, the sweet smell
on my hands tracked and I would lay
like the doe, my eyes open

beautiful, almost life-like.

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