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It Kept Coming Back

Will Carpenter

We rode past on our bikes for a week

only slowing, as though we had somewhere

else to go, gawking

as the yearling deer’s lungs crusted

and its ribs bleached brilliant, like sun-

baked dog shit or an OxiCleaned T-shirt.

Usually, roadkills were windshield-

figments. On the third day

its nose melted off. The other boys

stopped slowing after that, but I circled back

secretly, cheeks flushed

with something like shame

or admiration for the blush

of crusted blood on the grass.

I think it was the smell

that drew me, nostrils molded

to the sweet reek of black

bacterial blooms, rancid

twinge of burgeoning life.

I wondered if Hell was in them,

but the deer, their host, seemed

only a little tired, tongue dry

and hamstrings drooping

from femurs. It kept coming back

to me in crows and vultures, thrill

of rot or metamorphosis.

My palms sweat and I imagine

pecking at its carrion,

roadside, like fast food.

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