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Expecting

This was originally a guest blog post from Karen Joy Fowler's animal interactions blog: http://karenjoyfowler.com/blog/

Micah Perks, deer Posted on May 3, 2013  

Contributed by the fabulous novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, Micah Perks, who is, to my great fortune and infinite pleasure, also in my writing group.

 

Expecting

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I lived in the country in Western New York. One morning I looked out the window into the overgrown backyard and saw a deer. Now, I live in California where the mule deer are grey, squat and barrel-chested, but the one in my Ithaca backyard was an eastern white-tailed doe, reddish, legs long and slim, dancer-like. It was so pretty that at first, I didn’t notice that its stomach was swollen and its hide ragged. The doe mouthed the barren grape vine, nosed the bare ground. I realized she was pregnant.

After that she seemed to spend part of every day in my backyard grazing while I grazed indoors. Together we grew larger and larger.

One day while I watched in my swollen state, the white-tailed doe grazed her way out of the woods and into the yard, followed by two spotted fawn. The fawns pulled up grass, raised their heads, pranced sideways. One began to nurse. The other pricked her enormous looking ears and raised her narrow head—she seemed to be staring straight at me with her big brown Bambi eyes.

After that, the three of them spent their mornings in the yard, while I increased, while I waited.

I gave birth to my daughter a month later. On the fifth day after after her birth, I ventured out into the world to return some DVD’s and pick out new ones. On my return, I was walking back up the driveway at dusk, clutching the DVDs to my chest, when I heard my new daughter crying in the house, a high wail as thin as a thread. Her cry pulled at me, and the front of my shirt soaked through with milk. Then, I heard something in the bushes, and the doe emerged. Where were her twins? Had she lost them? The doe didn’t even notice me, she was that intent on the crying. Her neck strained forward, her ears pulled up and back, her eyes focused on the sound. I watched her walk right up the front steps, her muzzle nearly touching the screen door.

At first I found this charming, but minutes went by, and I was still standing in the driveway while the doe blocked my path back to my daughter. This became creepy. I cleared my throat, but the deer paid no attention. “Shoo,” I said tentatively. Finally, I clapped the DVDs together and the doe hopped a little, then headed towards the woods, looking back over her shoulder, not at me, but at the house, at the treasure we both knew was contained within.