Animal Tracks

Venison

Bucks rake their antlers on the
birch trees in my backyard.
All day long they scrape and
scrape the velvet skin until they have
bared their bony racks.
The trunks drip sap from the gashes.
Sometimes beetles crawl out of the gaps,
amber centipedes and malachite cicadas
scuttling over the ridged bark.
Birds eat the bugs. I watch them
drop from under the porch eaves,
frail flighted arrows, just as precise,
snatching at the trees.
Beaks like knives.
As though precision might lesson
the simple fact of murder. A clean
incision sterilizing horror. Though it is
not murder: only death. Just
suddenness that makes it appear cruel.
All night the clack and clatter of antler on
antler rattles the slim white trees.
The sound of rutting madness.
I cannot sleep, imagining
the force and pressure of those bones
driven skull to skull.
In the morning
strips of antler velvet
hang from the branches:
soft, soft like the skin of an
earlobe, like the tip of a man’s
cock. Sweet and tender on the lips.
I gather the skin,
boil it in a copper pot.
I mean to eat it all.
I want to consume that
fragrant meat. The fleshy
strings bloody the water,
pinkish clots floating—
globes, turning moons.
Transformation from solid into
something closer to lightness:
purified and risen.
When I drink the water
eat the velvet flesh
I imagine what it might be like
to rub myself raw until,
uncovered, I became
sharpened to the finest point.

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