Signs of Deer

 Nora Hickey

The icy breath of winter brushed
my dun nipples alive. You thought
it was the clumsy stroke
of your hands.
And I can’t say that blue
veins ran like rivers under
your skin, because
I don’t recall anything about you
except that your tongue
trailed beads of saliva
from the wet cave
of my mouth to my shoulders,
and I thought of the deer tracks
I had seen in the snow.

I sniffed the air for a sign of their presence
but the damp scent of animal did not
stick to the blowing winds.
I needed a sign—a dropping rich with seed,
a tuft of belly fur, a gummed ball of snot.

I wondered if you could taste
my phlegm, if you too enjoyed
the nutty flavor I conjured
in one strong cough.
You with the viscous cream
coating my insides, driven out
before you coiled your tongue
round my tonsils, pressed the bristled
skin of your stomach to my own.

When the deer saw me search
for them in ridges of bark,
underneath opaque ice,
one flashed the white of its belly,
a flag of warning to still the clouds
billowing from their swollen nostrils.

The blanch of my limbs blinded me
for an instant when you rolled off,
heavy, like a roadside carcass,
but it was too late to hide
behind the evergreen
that scratched at my window.

Nora Hickey is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of New Mexico. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she is now enjoying the burger joints and mountains of Albuquerque. She currently serves as Co-Poetry Editor of Blue Mesa Review and has work forthcoming in Mid-American Review.