Here's to the underdog
Some things make my heart hurt. A lame deer, nudged along by his pack, until they just can't bring him along, so they leave him, camoflaged in the woods, while they carry on. A five-year-old, made fun of for having a fruit roll-up that is different. There is no accounting for what can pull at my heartstrings, just a guarantee that I always root for the underdog.
Tonight I decided I needed to write a poem. I pulled out a Sharon Olds' book, determined to try and write a poem like one of hers. The first two lines of "The Untangling" read, "Detritus, in uncorrected/nature, in streambeds or on wood floors..." I didn't read any further. I was just reminded of the mess that is my backyard as the Spring thaw begins, which reminded me of the deer, which, for whatever reason, reminded me of the story my son told me while we were grocery shopping for this week's snacks.
This is a first draft, a rough draft. Comments & critiques welcome!
Tracking a Lame Deer, My Son Speaks of Snack Time
Limb by limb, limp by limp, the broken deer hobbles
into our backyard and through an invisible mirror
into maimed animal heaven. The only sign, a mat of white
hair floating in a snow puddle. On three good legs
he has vanished into the February trees. Tracing his hoof prints
we see eternity. “The kids made fun of my snack,” my son tells me.
“They said my fruit roll-up was old.” It was, in fact, organic.
The best flattened fruit to be had, healthy, full of vitamins
and squashed love. Ostracized for healthy living. A small slight,
but still, the sugar-eaters and the red dye # 40-mongers have pushed
my son from the kindergarten fold. Mud sucks our boots,
pries our knees loose from our legs. There is no sign
of the deer we have called Luke, after the Star Wars hero
who turns to the dark side and back again. We’ve no choice
but to pass through the invisible mirror. Green fields swallow us.
Here our deer is gold, his leg has agreed to bend and steady,
his family of six has taken him back. He is once again lucky seven,
part of the crowd, welcomed on all the fence leaping, tree nuzzling romps.
It is what I wish for my son, to go back in time, to fill out his skeletal belly
with leaves not fallen, berries not rotten. At his last supper there will be no betrayal.