Doe a Deer
Behind our house, at the foot of a hill, the woods begin and then stretch on for miles to a creek where my sister and I sometimes wade. My father positioned a salt lick down near the foot of the hill in order to catch sight of the deer that had been eating his cranberries. Each day he pushed open the sliding glass door with the tips of his fingers and we all quietly stepped out onto the lawn, each with a rifle strapped around a shoulder. We ate green grapes, passing the bowl around while watching the lick. Over the days, bugs collected on and near the block of salt. Birds and raccoons came and picked at it. My father sometimes threw pebbles and pinecones at them. We stood through colder nights; sometimes flurries sifted their way through the trees. Still we stood in the lawn, passing the bowl and watching the lick. Snow fell for days until it slowly stopped. One day, from out of the woods a malnourished doe stumbled forward, her long skinny legs sinking deep into the snow. We stopped passing the bowl and watched her pink tongue, like a salmon fillet, scrape at the salt. Her black eye opened wide watching us as she licked at it. I was so startled by the gunfire I fell to the ground, dropping my rifle and spilling the grapes in the snow. Behind the heads of my family gray clouds curled into each other. My mother, my sister and father stood completely still, rifles, poised and pointing to the foot of the hill. They all looked down at me.