The deer in the wood

I think of the woman living in long grasses just beyond the shelfrock of Superior. At night she stands in a clearing where the moon has melted into the snow and shakes a tin can of corn in the direction of a dark cluster of cedar trees. She shakes it once and listens for the things that rise of themselves in the night. Great delicate animals of muscle and wood glide from shadow into shadow. She rattles the can again and the clearing fills with waiting deer, antlers fine as silver needles, their faces long and lovely. For a moment she is amazed. Her hands cast the corn in a broad arc around their heads. Some rear up on quivering haunches, hoofs and horns click together like wooden blocks, and there is the sound of heavy bodies thumping on frozen ground. When the door closes in the dark house, expectation falls slowly from each animal. One by one, they move to bed down again into the shadows of the cedar where no memory of having lived keeps them from living and guarding the coming of heavy snows.

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