Doe After the Lightning Storm

Red light, where you were when the strike struck-to

and split, singeing thusly the center, burning

 

right through to bone, even in all that rain, even through

all that heart. It was a fall of meaty shelves, bracket

 

fungi lunged off the basswoods whose bellies sagged

with the clear milk’s weight dripping stiff

 

in clusters. Hard to say what sounded then, how that

symphonic stir slung off the caps’ gilled undersides.

 

True, those fruiting bodies smelled the heartwood’s sweet,

knew to snuff out its wounds and woo just inside them,

 

ingesting all it kept hidden. To know just what you want

and to get it, like the whelk, who siphons to its gills

 

the smell of its prey, then with its own shell drills its kill

open to feed on the slick meat inside. Hacked clean,

 

the bald fields sprawled endless that autumn, keeping nothing

in their blunted stubble. During the night, they dragged her

 

body across the path a few paces from where we surveyed

she died. When we found her, her eyes were open, her belly

 

still swollen from what tried to hide inside it. What killed her

knew the scent of her center well, knew how to woo her

 

and did. You were still alive then, when the ground was burning,

and the only thing we could think of for months was

 

of all that meat inside.

 

Photo credit: Jeff Kramer via Creative Commons

About the author

Caitlin Roach’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in jubilat, Narrative, Poetry Northwest, Tin House, Best New Poets 2017, Colorado Review, Poetry Daily, The Manchester Review, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is an assistant professor-in-residence at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. More of her work can be found at caitlinroach.com.

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