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Shortlist Saturdays: Deer King by Christina Hennemann

Deer King

I cross the bridge and find you

soaked in dew, overlooking the clearing.

Doe eyes and roots crowning your antlers,

you wait for me as though an epiphany.

I can’t see you as born from a flaw, thrown

into poison ivy, unarmoured and without fangs.

I don’t know how to be loved by a man,

mastered the art of kneeling down

to be cast a stone-eye and choked with

an absence of feeling I cannot name.

Here the warm mist rises up as a rug.

You pierce a distance with your hand,

my arms sink down, drowning the elbows.

Your knee drops into the grass, like my father’s

in his final act before the fall. I was pure

vitriol and fretting fawn, fleeing

but rammed into the soil, legs tied with weed.

Like this I fit right into your Cupid's bow.

I’m not afraid of dying anymore, but love,

love strangled me tighter than his grip.

You know everything. You’re not a god,

just less human and more earth,

growing flowers from a ruptured cleft.

As you lower on my head a branched wreath,

I say yes, I’ll love you for a very long time,

maybe even longer.

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