Deer Poem by Leigh Chadwick

Deer Poem

The first time I saw my husband he was a deer
grazing in the field behind my house. It was morning,
early enough for the dew to still be settled.
I was standing in the living room, looking out the window
as I watched him, his head down, his teeth pressed
against the earth. I thought milk thistle
but didn’t know why. I wished him to stay. I blinked,
and he was still there. I did a load of laundry,
and he was still there. I painted the kitchen lagoon.
Again, he was still there. I waited for the sky to cry.
The sky never cried, but my husband stayed,
unmoved, his mouth still pressed against the earth,
the grass nothing but dirt. The sun began to fall.
I opened my back door and walked out into the field.
My husband’s ears twitched. His antlers grew smaller antlers.
His heart threatened nothing but its next beat.


Leigh Chadwick is the author of the chapbook, Daughters of the State (Bottlecap Press, 2021), the poetry coloring book, This Is How We Learn How to Pray (ELJ Editions, 2021), and the full-length collection, Wound Channels (ELJ Editions, 2022). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Salamander, Heavy Feather Review, Indianapolis Review, and Olney Magazine, among others. Find her on Twitter at @LeighChadwick5.

Winter’s Toll by Melanie Figg

Winter’s Toll

The deer are starving.
Summer was too dry and snow came too soon
and too thick. They usually don’t come out
of the woods until February. It’s almost Christmas
and they’re in the trailer park by ten.

My mother died a week ago.
We cleaned out her refrigerator,
found two bins of apples
she had no energy to can
and left them for the deer.

After bar close I drive in slow: two doe and a fawn.
For a minute I feel lucky—to see animals so hungry
they’re at front doors eating
Christmas wreaths. One doe swings her head,
watches me park and go inside
my mother’s house. They keep walking,
looking for apples on the snow-covered lawns.


Melanie Figg’s debut poetry collection, Trace (New Rivers Press) was named one of the 100 Best Indie Books of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews. Melanie has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The McKnight and Jerome Foundations, the Maryland State Arts Council, and others. Her poems, personal essays, and book reviews can be found in dozens of literary journals including The Iowa Review, Nimrod, and The Rumpus. As a certified professional coach, Melanie teaches creative writing, offers women’s writing retreats, and works one-on-one with writers and others.