Deer Skull with Pedernal, Georgia O’Keefe, 1943, oil on canvas
Nourished by hide and marrow
a tree sprouted beneath him
rose crooked between his ribs
branched through his nostrils and pulled
the young buck up from the earth
let each vertebrae tumble
down its twisting veins of bark.
Hooves landed with a patter
on spring grass; each tibia
cracked the other as they fell.
When only his head remained
perched on slate-gray branches,
the vultures’ sickle beaks came
to pick him clean, rake his bone.
On his temples, he wore two
gems of the blue ombre sky.
On his head, he wore sun-flushed
antlers like a blushing crown.