Featured in Colorado Review
Published Spring 2016
One crow is good luck. Two crows, bad.
Ladybug, ladybug: your house caught fire.
One petal: he loves you. One petal: loves you not.
Here is the body: stiff as a stick.
Here is the feather: now you float.
She’s looking sick: she’s dying, dead.
One petal left: you’re dying, you’re dead.
One crow: good luck. One deer: deer luck.
Dead deer in the woods: still counts.
Dead deer in the woods, ribs bashed in: a car on the street.
A car on the street, and animals like to crawl someplace
lonely to die.
Dead deer in a dream: in dreams, your house keeps burning.
You run to the woods: lucky, alive.
Numb of winter: you forget the deer, then stumble on the bright
in spring: bones licked white as stars. Through the skull:
a blade of grass.
Through the ribs: light.
Ribs collapse: this means dust and dirt and time. Means the
around a burning star and you turn too, dumbstruck and
Bodies collapse, years: you grow up. Time grows small. Stars
collapse: become dust,
become bone. Through them comes the light.
If you drive a boy’s car to the Texaco
for cigarettes, this means
This means he loves you and he’s throwing
every object in the room one by one.
He loves you, loves you not.
If a deer leaps from the woods, pauses
mid-air, pinned still
If the crash comes slow as unstrung lightning.
If you wonder if maybe
she wanted to die.
If there’s a way to save a thing that wants to die.
If you come back with the boy in the morning.
If he loves you, loves you not.
If a boy who loves you always wants to save you:
from the past, from the future,
If always a boy who wants to save you
wants to kill you
a little too,
you know the deer won’t be there anyway.
You know she’s in the woods,
If you love the thing that wants to kill you,
your luck will burn like a flare:
brief but shining.
Some say there are deer. Some say there’s luck.
If once on a bad trip your mother saw a deer and knew everything would be okay—
even you, her far-off, unborn child; even with the world on fire—
all her life she’d tell you: a deer means good luck.
And you’d believe her, always.
Even when deer flew through windshields all over town.
Even on a dark road late at night, even if the doe was coming just for you.
Even then there’d be a moment—your animal eyes meeting, brief and shining.
Emily Geminder’s stories and essays have appeared in American Short Fiction, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, Witness, Hobart, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Award and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center.