Poem with Pediatric Diagnosis and Deer

Kate Gaskin


There was never really a child.
There was only a herd

of mule deer, ragged at the ears,
grazing in the soft pasture

and then nesting beside the gravel path
we walked daily, holding hands.

There were mountains.
There were thistles,

their throats thorned with purple needles.
There was even a snake swallowing

a baby rabbit, but there was never
a child, never daily illness

strung limp from the trees
like wet sheets. There were only deer

bunked down beside cottonwoods
bailing out armfuls of white wooly seeds

so that even in June there was snow.