Not in the quiet, but in what alludes to a softer sound,
I run the roads that mark my father’s land,
hardwoods and failed fields let go, now green and satisfied.
I startle a herd of deer. White tails disperse
into a leaping of barbed wire. The group hurtles for the trees,
all but one. The half-fawn with faded spots, doomed to fail, fails,
its torso lodged between two rusty wires.
I don’t mean to stop, watch its thin legs flail, nor the body writhe,
but its scream is like a small bird screeching for its life,
as if torn flesh were given voice, a bird within a beast.
I try to run, tumble to my knees. At last the fawn slips through
and flees, leaves me trembling in our common fear.
Never mind the beetle in my mouth, it’s gentle.
Never mind this morning, the first sighting
of a lazuli bunting on a branch. I tracked back
to the canyon three days so I might set eyes
on the maker of the song and name it.
I stood there hushed before its blue-laced dip and swift
unsettling into brush, clean blue-white delight,
the tiny neck marked by red nearly that of my home dirt.
Never mind this quiet scoured by sun. I’ve been muted
more than once by lesser things: fashion, cleverness
peppering its tricks, fugue, scrim and rivulets of mind,
brilliant cross and savviness. Savagely alone, today I am
voluptuous with bird and air, plain-witted prayer,
Sierra canyon shade, unheard and never mind.
Tara Bray has published work in The Southern Review, Crab Orchard Review, Shenandoah, Verse Daily, and others. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.