Dear Deer Hunter

By Susan Chiavelli

My granddaughter wishes to capture a speckled fawn like Bambi
and make it her pet. When I was her age I loved Bambi, too.
The movie still plays in the womb of my shadow.

I’m five again, sobbing in the Crest Theater, Mother pulling me
up the aisle through darkness, the forest fire blazing behind us—
Bambi’s mother dead on the ground.

A herd of deer roam these hills. We watch their liquid eyes watching
us, the keepers of the roses. Sometimes they step closer,
as if they might abandon their wildness and eat from our hands.

Caitlyn practices throwing a lasso over the fence post by the barn.
When she wears her cowgirl boots and hat she sees with the eyes
of a hunter. Today she loops her lasso in a circle on the lawn,

fills it with the deers’ favorite roses—the pale yellow Poet’s Wife,
no ordinary floribundas. She waits on the other end of the rope,
determined and ready to pull it—waits in the want and wishing

on the edge of our canyon—in a place where every rustle is
something about to happen, something ready to step into her
sweet trap. Her shadow touches my shadow—

black silhouettes painted on green lawn. Bambi cavorts
in the background, the music playful, the place in the movie
long before the forest fire and the hunter’s gun.

Susan Chiavelli is the recipient of the Chattahoochee Review’s Lamar York Nonfiction Prize for “Death, Another Country,” also named a notable essay by Best American Essays. Her prose and poetry have appeared in Paradise, Elsewhere, The Los Angeles Review, Miramar, San Pedro River Review, The Packinghouse Review, and elsewhere. Also by this poet: "Tandem" and "Fallen Fruit"