Four Stages of a Dead Deer in the Gilhoolys' Yard

Stage 1: Newly killed. Struck by a car. Lying on its back in the ditch off 42E. The deer looks up at the clouds like a poet lying in the grass, its left front leg ludicrously cocked toward its chin in contemplation. The deer is looking for the right word to describe all of this.

I dream this week (i) of driving lost in a city and then moving a sawhorse detour in the middle of a road and (ii) of being chased to a cliff by a bear running upright after me. I peer over the edge at a river. I jump and whoosh I go, plunging feet first. But the water is too deep and I’m still sinking when I wake up, wondering whether I can get to the surface.

Death by bear. Death by fall. Death by drowning.

Stage 2: A few days later and coyotes have turned the deer on its side and hollowed out the carcass. It lies there looking toward the road, dazed by the violence: a glassy-eyed mother dreaming of feeding fawn.

I'm watching Jesus on a YouTube TED Talk. “Don’t be afraid of hrr-risk,” He says. He’s made his money in fashion design. He’s rich but He looks homeless—long beard, long dreads, motorcycle boots, dirty ballcap. He talks like Lemmy Kilmeister. “Go wit’ the feelin’ in ya gut is I guess how I doone it.”

Lemmy Jesus, you should know. I’m afraid of risk the way I was afraid to spend the night at someone else’s house. Because the house smells like bacon grease. Because the family dog has teats and pink skin showing through its coat and its eyes are weepy with pus. Because the kid who invited me wonders why he did and while he’s pretending to sleep I’m rolling up my sleeping bag and walking down the dark hall toward the tv sounds in the living room to tell his parents: Can I call my dad?

Stage 3: Today—snow melt and heavy rain. The ditch is flooded. The deer’s yellow ribs break the surface of the ditchwater. As I drive by, the sight of the bones above the water registers as capsized boat. Bad omen.  

I can stay and finish teaching at Malaiseville U., where I’ve been for 30 years. No return to the surface: Death by drowning.

I can jump without knowing where I’ll land. I don’t want to be 60 years old wearing black Dickies and a red polo and saying, “How may I help you?” Death by falling.

So that leaves the bear, Lemmy Jesus. What is it? Or who? It’s always God, isn’t it?

Stage 4: Four turkey vultures have their backs turned to look the other way while a hawk, slumming, pecks at what remains of the deer. Nothing much left to peck. Pelt. Some sawtoothed bones. A jangly skull loosely attached by gristle and fur. It’s a primitive heap. It looks like the invention of the bagpipe.

My stomach hurts. I want to go home. Where’s my dead dad now that I can’t call him?

Bird Report  

Facts from an entry about crows: Faithful to their mates. Helpful to their parents. They maintain a lifelong attachment to their birth families. “They’re more like people than people,” the article informs me.

More like people than people. Another friend is under the gun at Malaiseville U., where we’re more like crows than crows. Admin holds his contract while a committee squawks at him: “What's your view of special revelation? What's your view of special revelation?”