The Deer and the Maple

2040 sounds prophetic until you do the math. In the year of our Lord,
storms will swallow the fine white tongue of New Jersey

that for so long, like a deer at a saltlick, slurped the greengray sea
from Asbury to Cape May. And while the doe gives up

for want of water, we will take up our guns
to defend this tiny rivulet here in the deep wood.

May I tell a true story? My mom’s favorite tree – the Japanese maple
in the side yard: red and low with bark not much rougher than human skin.

One day, I climbed and broke a branch and tried, little fool,
to mend it with scotch tape, winding around and around the raw limb.

When mom found it, she raged inside to blame my brother, and I
slowly closed the door to my bedroom, holding my breath to listen.

Autumn McClintock lives in Philadelphia and works at the public library. Poems of hers have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly,  Permafrost, Sonora Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and others. Her chapbook, After the Creek, was published in 2016. She is a staff reader for Ploughshares.

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