The Little Deer | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Little Deer

Crimson, Crimson, Crimson, Crimson, like the blood that runs when they kill a deer. -Frida Kahlo

If you shoot the hunted and it stares back, who has failed?
Kahlo gives herself antlers,
paints nine bleeding arrows anchored in her pelt.
Nine for her birthday, nine for the Aztec
underworld and its phases.
Nine arrows bleeding, but a stoic face,
after Diego, and surgeons,
and lovers, and the mirror
scarred her body.
I am reminded of wheel spokes,
a card flick-flick-flickering between them.
Will I thumb my wounds when I am a deer?

On a farm in Western Pennsylvania
I count nine deer in the tall red grass.
Just say it was a dozen,
the fiction writer tells me.
But, what good is a dozen deer if I don’t know the metaphor?

Her hair is silver like my mother’s
prayer box that I keep as a door stop.
She drinks the same brand of wine as my mother,
but in a smaller glass.
She tastes it.

My mother threw these bottles at me.
I know the maker,
the vineyard. I know the color,
the exact hue of red.
I know the weight
of its bottle when it is hollow
and how far it can be hurled
into the darkness
of a midnight kitchen.

The fiction writer is impressed with the flourish
when I unscrew the cork.
She is satisfied with its pop.
She has no children.

An albino deer lives on this farm, she says.
I didn’t believe her

until I saw her.
Four milk-white legs gliding out of the tall grass.

I imagined her transparent,
but the albino deer was cloudy warm.
A deer-mouse with pink oval ears.
She was stunned, seemed to know
that she did not match the sea of red grass.
She stepped in and out
in and out
looking at me,

icing smeared on a wooden table.
The poor thing
not at all majestic, but fragile
and remarkably odd.

I read once that a fawn is born odorless
so that predators can’t find them.
The mother doe will not come near her
will not touch her,
so that her scent
does not rub off.

A fawn in danger
will remain perfectly still.
Invisible in her spots.

We are taught so be silent,
to not write anything down.
to say anything is not our kind.
We are to take the bullet, the wine bottle,
the arrow. We are to bleed out.

We are the hunted,
until we grow a crown of bone,
until we stare back.

Brittany Hailer’s work has appeared in Hobart, The Fairy Tale Review, Barrelhouse and elsewhere. She is freelance journalist and educator. You can read her work at She lives with her mutt Hamilton in Lawrenceville. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, a podcast produced by Jan Beatty.

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