Fawn

The turkey vultures were out
on the roof of the old stables
at the bottom of the neighbor’s lot;
another on the split rail fence,
another half dozen circling high above.
The magpies that had been nesting
in the ponderosa across the way
and chasing off redtail hawks
also made a fuss, bouncing and squawking,
diving into the dry grass:
mid-July in the high plains and hot.

I came within four feet of the fawn,
enough to walk into the shade
of the vultures’ wings and their deep pink heads.
He was mostly intact:
a big gash on a haunch,
belly open,
spots still running along his side
like a promise of sunlight.

They stay with their mother the first summer
and we had seen them
working their way down the hill,
stopping at the sumac and the peach,
the doe always wary,
the fawns in the great dome of her gaze.

The day of the vultures,
she appeared and lay under the apple tree,
her udder full, ribs showing,
head heaving rhythmically every breath,
and she came back for three days
eating apples and drinking from the bird bath.
Getting back her strength.

The magpies also flew over from the stables
where they were eating her fawn,
and drank and splashed
in the bitter heat.