In autumn, the men hang deer
Upside down from the barn rafters.
Run their knives the whole length
Of the belly then barrel-hoop their arms
And yank out the guts like a sack of potatoes.
Their eyes tear from the smell
And blood drips down onto newspapers.
Laughing, drinking, talking
Late into the night, they gather around the animal,
Its eyes blank as bullets, the tongue
A pink glove in its mouth,
The lip curled as if to speak.
One of the sons, rubbing the soft curve
Of the deer’s ear, asks questions
About death, and once again,
They all huddle about the moonlit dark
With the same sacred lies,
Doomed creatures themselves, afraid to flinch.
Photo by Alexander von Halem