This poem-within-a-poem lives in the San Gabriel Mountains.
In the town of my childhood, little of note ever happened
so when the albino deer was found drowned in the slough
having been driven onto the punky ice by dogs,
the game warden brought the dead beast to the school.
I might have been seven or maybe six years old.
I suppose we were made to line up—
since that is how we were moved from place to place—
and were directed out the industrial doors
to admire the animal sprawled in the back of a truck.
We gathered around it, its whiteness a world
bled of distinction, its eyes pink and drying
in the prairie air. We were told we could touch it
and these many years since that March day, I can still
see my hand, pink and small, buried into the white fur
of the buck's neck, crackling with static
and coming to life with the electric surge
that animates all things. Later, the buck
would be mounted and placed in a glass case in the bank,
which is where the town kept things that were precious.
Behind it, the art teacher rendered the bluffs in oils
with the fussy hand of a miniaturist, and the buck
remains there today, in perpetual imitation of itself.