Just One

Just one night in summer the young buck,
all alone I imagine, cut a broad swath across
the path that belonged to the marsh rabbits,
following vesper light to escape the dense tarp
of the old-growth forest, and the full wolf moon
glanced the slim cusp of his pale antler
right as it grazed the trunk, where it fell
to velvet sand before he sensed the loss
so he still crossed sure-footed
into low live oaks’ eyelet cover,
tossing his head heavy to the side as he
dropped into the bed of the loamy soil.

Just one day near summer, years later
I am certain, because of its gray color
and the moss lining the driftwood ridges
that scarred its thin curve, all alone I found
that small antler half-buried in grainy shade
and took it as my own and placed it beside
the husks of chestnuts and small cockle shells
I keep in the glass case that holds my memories.

And just this night as I’m obliged to shelter still
in the cloister of my small home and wait
for slate sky to clear for this year’s buck moon
I hold that two-tined treasure in my hand
and once more all alone I am drawn to ponder
if, when his willow hunger finally lured him
from the sanctuary of his close oaken harbor,
there in that lonely corner of midsummer dawn
he must have seen himself as broken shadow;
and all alone I am drawn to wonder then if,
when I am free to venture into a sunlit world
without fear or doubt, like him the first thing
I am bound to see as I look down is a semblance
of myself, just nothing like the one I used to be.

Photo by Vincent M.A. Janssen from Pexels


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