The Deer

I found her in the forest
Barely alive
A deer
Panting uneasily
Lying on the ground
Her eyes gentle and kind
And pained
On the back of her neck, there was a wound
A deep cut
I knelt down beside her
And carefully – gingerly – not knowing how she would respond –
Reached out, and stroked her brown and white speckled fur
She sighed gratefully
There was a sort of melody to the sound
Beautiful and sweet

I stayed with her until the stars came out
Listening to the beat of her heart and the pace of her breath
Praying that they both kept on
I fell asleep in the grass beside her, curled up just like she
With the wind wrapped around us as our blanket

In my dreams I was with her too
I dreamt I carried her to a river
An aquamarine river
And in its healing waters
I soothed her heart
And mended her skin
And shaped and re-shaped her form
Until she was whole again
Until she could breathe

When I awoke the next morning
Blinking, taking in the morning light,
I found –
That she was gone.

I felt a pang of fear, then sadness, then regret for having closed my eyes
I should have stayed awake
I should have protected her
I looked all around me
I searched the nearby trees
I called for her as I walked
But in all my desperate seeking
I could not find her

How could it be?
Had she passed in the night?
Had her body simply turned to dust and evaporated in the wind?
Or –
How dreadful
How unbearable
Had she been scooped up in sharp jaws
Underneath the dark and unforgiving cloak of night
And devoured by another larger, stronger animal?
Even the thought of it was too cruel

But what if –
A thought came to me excitedly
bouncing all the way from the synapses in my brain to the pulse of my heart
What if she had gained back her strength?
What if she had healed?
What if she had opened her eyes in the morning, renewed in spirit, and lifted herself up onto steady feet?
And left to re-join her herd?

As I wondered and hoped, I felt another pang of hurt
This time, a physical kind
Coming from the back of my neck
I reached back and felt the spot with my hand,
How strange –
There was a cut there
A wound
A scab
It must have been an old injury because it felt like it was almost ingrained in the skin
But I had never known it to exist
Until – now
And as I touched the old wound, I somehow knew it was in the process of healing
And so was I

– Lucy Schwartz

note: I do not own the photographs included in this post. You can click on the photos to find out more about the photographer. 🙂