A Country of Deer

Pretending, sculpture by Adrian Arleo

From Adrian Arleo’s sculpture, Pretending, pictured above

STARVED by winter, this deer is dead.
So I lift her sepia head
And carve her eyes out with a spoon.
I want her sight, though it seems cruel

To force this trade: my eyes for hers.
This is my face, but her tears blur
My new vision. With these deer-eyes
I am cousin to deer. I cry

Like deer. I now see why deer grieve:
The barren ground and bark-stripped trees,
The gut-shot buck, electric fence
And men with guns. If I was a friend

To deer before, then let me stand
With deer at war on other men.
Let me teach doe and buck to rise
Against their foes. With these deer-eyes,

With hoof and horn, let’s raze cities,
Let’s burn the stores, and then release
The animals from their prisons.
Deer, hear my call, share my vision:

With these new eyes, I see the deer
Who is my wife. I mate with her
And, astonished, sire the fawn
Who shall be king and shall be queen,

And help us end this time of men.
If I am friend, though I am man,
Then let the deer take back these eyes
(I will not fear my sacrifice)

After we claim our victory.
Please let me roam in a country
Of deer. Let me be blind and wise
And I will feel with hands for eyes

The changed landscape and new weather.
Please, let my name be remembered
By herd and clan, in blood and fur;
I am the man who once was deer.

– Sherman Alexie