Maggie Blake Bailey 

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Bury the Lede


When two deer startle
you in the middle of the road
in the middle of the day and then 
two blonde boys bounce their ball 
at the same point in the road 
the next day, duck their heads 
and sprint to the sidewalk—

it matters.  And when your mother 
takes her house off the market,
flirting now with full on bankruptcy,
tells you she does it for you,
and you know the house is a symbol,
but the rot in the basement
distracts you, as does waist high
grass in the yard—

delay the meaning.  Instead, wait 
for the next deer, this time at dusk 
and close enough to press a hand 
against the startled flank, 
fur stiffer than you expected.

Remember that deer have memories, 
whole herds skirt electric fences
that no longer exist, boundaries 
that outlive pain.  For all the flash 
of white tails in headlights, they should 
have known better—

defer the impact.  Think of the first 
time you wanted to leave him, 
how you stood barefoot in the kitchen’s 
stainless dark, only to see a deer 
in the yard, both startled eyes open.

Spend your time counting deer.  Bury the lede.

 ~

Maggie Blake Bailey has poems published or forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia, Tar River, Slipstream, and elsewhere. Her review of Jane Hirshfield’s Come, Thief appeared in Flycatcher. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Bailey is currently engaged in a five-summer MFA program at Sewanee, the University of the South, and during the year, she teaches high school English in Atlanta, Georgia. 

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