Deborah A. Miranda: Eating a Mountain

You stand in the kitchen, cut
up a buck that a friend
shot for us. I watch you trim,
slice, decide: this is stir fry,
this is steak, this is stew.
These are treats for long-suffering
dogs on the porch, panting. Oh,

we are rich! I rinse, pack,
mark the cuts, this beautiful
deep red velvety offering.
Eating this deer means
eating thismountain:
acrons, ash, beech, dogwood,
maple, oak, willow, autumn olive;

means devouring witch hazel, pine,
lichens, mushrooms, wild grape,
fiddleheads, honeysuckle,
poison ivy, crown vetch,
clover; means nibbling wild onion,
ragweed, beggar’s lice, Junegrass,
raspberry cane, paw-paws,

crispy green chickweed,
and so you give the meat
your most honest attention,
dedicate your sharpest blade
to muscle, fat, sinew—
carve up that deer
with gratitude, artistry, prayer,
render a wild and sacred animal
into wild, sacred sustenance.

How we eat this deer is a debt
that comes due on the day
we let thismountain
eat us.


(Posted by permission of the author)