I tracked it through the one mind of the woods.
Its hoofprints pressed in snow were smallish hearts.
Buck fawn: he let me come so near, take aim.
Crouched against a fir, I was anything.
Bush, stump, doe in estrus he could rut.
Not his maimer, though, not his final thought.
He stared me down until I shot him: low.
Then the forest forgot he’d ever been.
Nascent, there were signs: bonechip, spoor, frail hair.
But no memory, wounded, wants to die.
He hid in the dark timber, twice crossed the creek.
Finally he lay heaving out last breaths.
Dusk-cast shadow, he died where he was made.
A bite of heart sustains but is not him.
* * * * *
Chris Dombrowski received his MFA from the University of Montana, where he also taught. He has won the Associated Writing Programs Intro Award and Alligator Juniper’s National Poetry Prize. His collection By Cold Water was published in 2009.