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When the deer dies alone

by Taylor Stafford

its stomach spills over—handful

of cherry seeds, gleam in its eyes reaching

but the body is not a body

a mother holds


The car keeps moving, wings

explode into the air like an air

conditioner turning on at night

sounds like hands shuffling cards


This death doesn’t sound like anything

it is not the kind of death people stop

to place a blanket over, or bury under

the tree in someone’s backyard


it looks like a bodiless jacket,

half-zipped and lit from the sun, on the part

where an arm should be


The deer does not get to be a ghost the way you are


When death swallowed you whole,

you were not

in the throat of a road or the saliva


of a sea, you were

kisses on the palm


I put them in my pocket


My keychain echoes down the hall

with your navy-blue name tag that reads Abigail

sounds like your collar coming alive

all over again

About the Author

Taylor is a graduate of Texas State University.

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