The Baby

by Jay Sizemore


The day the panicked fawn ran up my street,
my wife and I had spent our morning painting.
We were covered in sweat, white droplets of semi-gloss
dried to our clothes like the spots
on that baby deer’s flanks. I remember the terror
in its wide brown eyes, its mouth working with foam
as if foam were the manifestation of screams
that had eclipsed the sound barrier,
the deer bounding from concrete to grass
to concrete to grass, as it leapt through
neighboring yards and vanished between
two houses, leaving an absence greater
than words torn from a page,
greater than twenty-nine grams of electrical mass,
when the skin starts slackening and pooling with sky.

We drove past the field on our way to Home Depot,
where the large yellow trucks, the backhoes, the bulldozers
were pushing over the trees like brittle weeds,
flattening out the hills through clouds of dingy dust,
moving earth into a tall mound like the tilled soil
of a fresh grave. There was no sign of where
the deer’s mother could have gone,
no sign announcing the pending result
of so much construction,
an ironic name for work that warns
of the eminent BLASTING ZONE
in bright orange, reflective squares.
I took my wife’s hand and kissed her Rorschach palm.
We had several hours left to finish painting the nursery.

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