Night Visitor

 Wind’s hands reach
with fingers of amber leaves,
grasping for the deer that
disappears into the night

When does a deer become a pet? When you start to feed him apples? When he comes around regularly enough to earn a name?

It’s deer-hunting season, so I’m surprised he still comes back.

“He looks tasty.” My husband licks his lips.

Don’t even think about it, my eyes shoot back.

The deer and I are kindred spirits – solitary, quiet, we prefer leaves to meat. We both have widely spaced eyes. (The better to watch out for predators, they say.)

My spirit animal comes to visit us nightly, undeterred by the hostile wind that spits leaves like popcorn and men toting rifles. The mechanical monsters with headlights for eyes that occasionally snake down our dirt road have not scared him off.

I ask the children what we should call him. They have already named the resident seal at Nana’s house “No” and the porcupine “Yes”. Recently No brought by a friend to visit; they called her “Not”. I’m wondering if this deer will be called “Maybe”.

Fall gusts snatch the coffee right out of my cup, splattering it all over my coat. My ghost-like reflection spooks me in the mirror. The wind that promises me a bad hair day slams the door back in my face, telling me to stay home. It smells of snow. Yet the buck comes back to steal leaves off trees and fatten up for winter, knowing that the bright white will soon blanket all in its peaceful slumber.

With luck he’ll live to see it.