A mere twelve inches at the shoulder, fourteen inches in length from chest to tail, it is the smallest of white-tailed deer. And so young – its tawny coat is sprinkled with white dots. It stands on impossibly slender legs. With a flick and flash of its tail, it gathers together its tiny hooves to leap and prance and dart about. For sheer joy, it cuts reckless, random patterns through the swaying meadow, beneath the dividing shade of towering trees.
At last, it pauses – gawky legs spread and anchored, tail raised, ears alert – an arm’s length away. Reach out to stroke it, to feel the silken fur stretched over that delicate structure of bones; to feel the small knob of skull, that firm reassurance crowned in large, fur-fringed ears.
Fleet as forethought, the fawn leaps beyond reach, dashes in mad circles through wind-blown grasses. Scissoring through wildflowers, it cuts back and forth in indecipherable movements. Upon reaching the base of a great, thick oak, the deerling whisks up the tree’s grooved trunk. Tiny hooves serve as pitons fitted to the bark’s cracks and fissures.
Hand’s edge raised to shield your eyes, lean back, squint to follow its wild movement. Spy a flash of auburn within the canopy overhead. Hear the scrabble of its hooves against trunk and branches. Catch the sift and fall of loosened bark against your upturned cheeks, chin, lips. Feel a fist-solid pressure rise beneath your breastbone.
— C.Birde, 12/17