I found the skeleton of a mule deer
on my grandfather’s land. The dry
white blossom of bones reminded me of
the National Geographic cover
in my grandfather’s hunting cabin, featuring
Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos. The carcass peeled
back on itself, had deteriorated, been partially
absorbed into the soft earth, joined with this
small grove of aspen trees, heartleaf arnica,
and moss covered stones. I had not been
its first visitor, either. Black scars in the
paper-white bark recorded no fewer than
fourteen different people who had come to
watch for themselves year by year this dead
animal’s retreat, be swallowed more each new season.
Five more years would pass before the bones
submerged entirely out of sight. All that time
not a single bone or antler was ever taken
as if people knew this particular plot
was sacred. If not to them, than certainly
to the animal itself. Now, some 35 years after
I first happened upon the deer, no trace remains
but I still find myself returning to this same spot
again each autumn looking perhaps, hoping to witness
something new rise up out of the earth and run.


Mule Deer Bones


Photo mule deer bones, dubois, wyoming by greg westfall used under Creative Commons License (CC BY 2.0)