Prageeta Sharma
Animal Family

There was a family of deer that looked something like us.

They traveled far with a fierce sense of collective unity.

Held their fearless faces absent of cosmic worry, for the most part.

And yet something crept in, making the easiest part

of being together a struggle. As fate would have it, they would eventually

have to make their way across several highways alone,

not in a pack of unity or disunity, but as singular beings.

The hardest part is some of them would die.

Some knew they might freeze in headlights

but survive. Some may creep across the Montana parks

without knowing who else might be lurking.

Others fell in love among the icicles of snow that dossal in sparkles.

Couples, we agree, are wintery mirages unto themselves.

This family, fragmented in a finitude of private loves,

hid in their respective emotional anxieties,

and separated their loyalties out as rations.

Because of it, they ventured out in their own ways,

finding snowberries in difficult spaces.

Acceding to those shrubs far out of reach.

This might have cost the family their comfort.

But it began the notion that every moon is an ornament

bobbing in front of a ghost light, and from which,

I used it to see, perceptually, that I am no more of that family.

To which, I found a solitary doe in a grove, an eyeful of meadow,

and a handful of buoyant well-wishers to take me

closer to a beckoning kinship, because it had been hidden

too much by the forest, too much by the obsolete family

who had taken my moonlight along with my wilderness.

Found In Volume 52, No. 06
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Prageeta Sharma
About the Author

Prageeta Sharma is the author of five poetry collections, including Grief Sequence (Wave Books, 2019) and The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize.  She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College, and lives in Claremont, California.