We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place

Kelly Weber


and we all find our way here in time / to the house we’ve made of shame and bone / to the hour of deer licking between our thighs / however you daughter / however you drove back last night / up a highway toward a north you barely remember / along the front range / and woke in this sprawled sheet of bed / rock you’ve always known in the back of your skull / each of us has curled beneath the angel’s black wing / telling us that you deserved this shame / and staggering into a sunrise / slatted pink across the wall / through the curtains’ dust your mother / remembered your body into this place / the way she pointed / to the line of does / cutting behind your house / saying look / so close to your cheek / the buck scraping the bark / from the tree you carved your name into / and you who hated yourself / you who claimed to love others like you but secretly despised / this life you were born into / have stepped out of it into a cleaner / light startled by these bones you’re coming into / heart a carnivorous ruby clenched between your teeth / walking toward the sound of all the mothers who’ve guided you this far / who gave you blood maybe / we can only carry some of this a little ways as far as we can / and then give it to someone else / freeway sounds blown on a wind off / a highway where nothing dies / and maybe we’re tuning to a radio / dilated open to something beautiful / something wise / a shelter in the curve of an on-ramp / where we tread ground studded with antlers / picking our way strong enough to figure out / how to carry / through mineral and hair and gasoline / and this voice quiet in the static / psalms saying keep going / here you are forgiven / you who never did anything wrong in the first place / by such femoral light / we lean to one another we wound into each other’s tender bones / kissing clavicles we split / and we are changed to deer at the broken place / following a path to water




Kelly Weber (she/they) is the author of the debut poetry collection We Are Changed to Deer at the Broken Place (Tupelo Press, 2022) and the chapbook The Dodo Heart Museum (dancing girl press, 2021). Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Southeast Review, Brevity, The Missouri Review, The Journal, Passages North, and elsewhere, and her reviews have appeared in such publications as Colorado Review, Seneca Review, and The Rumpus. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and lives with two rescue cats. More of their work can be found at kellymweber.com.