Pulling up overgrown ferns, I found a deer’s

pelvis buried in our terraced garden.

It was aged, smooth, smaller

than I thought it should have been.

For a few months, I balanced it

inside on our mantle, then took it back

outside and reburied it.


And I found a severed deer’s leg,

still hooved and pelted, in a bank of plowed snow.

Whether by hunter or car, I realized

death remains repugnant

until relics seem ancient, the living creature



Then my daughter, excavating

a rotted stump, discovered a woodchuck’s ribs,

vertebra, femur, skull.

She assembled the skeleton

on a wooden green table. I saw

the animal’s form laid out before me

like a catechism. I saw her careful fingers

slide radius beside ulna,

center the sternum, balance the lowest vertebrae

within the pelvis, the creature’s wholeness,

our memory of her young

parading through clover,

all of it restored.