The Deer in the Window

by Nels Hanson

His ranch was set in a bowl six miles

wide with pines on the buttes, like a fertile

crater on the moon. A creek wove

the round valley, from underground,

even dry years a bubbling pool formed

at the mouth. The Paiutes called it Wonder

Valley but I forgot the Indian name. I crossed

the plank bridge and didn’t see stock

in the shade along the creek, and the pastures

watered by a network of ditches didn’t look

so green as last summer. Travis’ ‘50 blue

Chevy truck stood under the cottonwood

in the black lake of shadow. Then I shivered,

something wasn’t right. I’d seen Travis

working on the house, maybe fixing

a window pane or screen. I’d almost

honked, but I’d wanted to surprise him.

I stopped the Ford and stared at the tan

ten-point buck leaning its head out

the kitchen window, browsing the wild

poppies that grew along the wall. The deer

hadn’t looked up or raised an ear

when the car pulled in. It kept on chewing,

its big antlers down among the yellow

blooms. I watched it eat and then hurried

toward the house, calling, “Travis! Travis?

You here?” No answer but a clatter

of hooves and the deer came onto the porch.

The buck waited, lifting its nose. It lowered

its horns as I stepped back and it pushed open

the screen door and jumped down the steps,

crossing the yard  to the barn. Inside the door

the deer dropped its head, trying to lick

the gold straw stuck flat to the hard ground.

It was mad, backing up, jabbing with angled

antlers, digging and snorting. Sun through

broken shingles made the hay stalks

look like that kid’s game Pick-Up-Sticks.

On its stand, Captain’s dusty saddle glowed

amber. A blackened shoe hung halfway

down the anvil’s point and balanced slantwise

a hammer lay on the silent pounding bed.

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1 Comment

Filed under Issue 7, Poetry

One response to “The Deer in the Window

  1. Theresa

    I love the imagery and the surprise ending.

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