The moon in a mackerel sky
suggested spring snow that would not come;
and in the frozen orchard a deer lay dying,
her belly swollen with fawn unborn.
In the road, blood, a piece of headlamp, hair.
Francis came to shoot her
since she could not die.

Not a man to preach to the birds,
this Francis plows winter roads,
cleans the ditches of gravel and trash,
gave his niece money for a honeymoon in Vegas.
He parked his gray pickup in the drive,
walked between bare apple trees,
between winter prunings, with his gun.

I think that each soul looks like a jewel
resting in God’s great dark hand.
I think the deer is red, a garnet;
Francis a diamond, carbon compressed.
I think from his place that saint
calls down the crows, the hungry coyotes,
each to its consecrated task.

Published in Writers’ Journal, May/June 2004


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