Sometimes a piece of art just won’t let you forget about it. Facts about Deer is one of those pieces for me. I first read it in Narrative Magazine in 2016 and, as I said, it’s been coming back to me ever since – a poem so conscious of itself and yet so intriguing. A poem seemingly about death but also about choice and decision-making and secrets. This poem, while melodious, shudders with a brittle undercurrent. It’s a poem that pulls at meaning and brings a story to light. It uncovers a personality.

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram has written other poems. You can find out more about her work here and here.

Facts about Deer

Because this is still a poem with an animal in it
and I am still trying—I might say “it offers you
its meaty heart, with no lasting conditions.”

If you’ve seen a struck deer thrash its life out
on the shoulder, a burner that clicks
without flaming, you know how they seize to death.

Who cares what I think, but I wished just then
to have a knife. I wished I knew a little about guns
and to own one or to know something sorcerous.

Because nothing but blood tastes like blood, I’ve cut
myself for its coppery flavor. Only God knows
I’m good. My mother says I’ve no scruples, the way

I make no claims to being a permanent person,
how my move from husband to ex-husband came on
a wave of expediency and self-promotion. If you’ve gone

to the store and left behind a life—the kind that comes
with seating, spare change jars, someone’s green thumb
—then you know how I angered at the woman

shrieking behind the wheel of her cracked Escape,
phone to face, doe spasming on the shoulder.
Someone should knuckle up and kill this deer. A roadway

in America and there’s no policeman on hand to squash
a neck? It’s early evening & the sky’s poetically
blameless gray fills your throat with the thick despair

so familiar to the heavily indebted. Mountaineers know
you can’t save anyone on good will, that high altitude
is minus morality. So, Confessionalism. Or,

Two Truths and a Lie: I married a man I met
on an airplane. I killed that deer. I have no patience
for even the most cherubic of children.

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