Rebecca Foust

Let Deer

for my uncle

These mountains look like your mountains, bare-tree blurred, 
valleys quilted in tussock and shadow

in a world I no longer know. I smell the dark soil and leaf meal 
that tomorrow will receive you

three thousand miles east of here, the white clapboard church 
with its ceiling of gold stars 

picked out against navy-blue, and the redbud outside swelled
 like an inflamed wound. 

Let it be a day like today, sky-rinsed, the mountains sounding 
their low, purple chord. Let owls call

after the author of midnight, and trout arc silver over the river. 
Let deer come at dusk to the salt block 

you set out last fall. Let someone be willing to want your things: 
the twenty-three smudged pastels of the Shawnee, 

the stories and poems never sent off to Field & Stream. Let us
remember you as you were before 

being swallowed by the bottle, a boy in the woods with a book 
and a fly-rod in either hand, and—