By the throat and belly—that’s how
this drought has got us, all
dried up and ready to kick—see my little one and I hide behind the fine lady’s
stripped lettuce. After breakfast, with her husband in her—
she looks out the bedroom window, points
with her tan hand, to the baby and I. He soon finishes.
After seeing her calendar, she had begged him for this quick thing. A routine like March
planting—the seeds sown, none sprout. Afterwards,
he snaps his watch back on, and over her legs, she pulls
her yoga pants up to her waist. She remakes the bed,
while the man’s eyes move, from the shady place where we wait,
to the fence we had jumped, but now, holds us—immigrants—hers—
cornered in the garden. Still, our mouths did not tear her row
to green lace. She’s staring—and my little one stands, like a toddler
swaying on new legs, 4 feet from ruined
lettuce. The woman doesn’t see the butterflies lunching
on her harvest. They leave with their stomachs full. She doesn’t
see the heavy flock of lemon-wings flutter away. Her eyes won’t
leave the little one’s bony face. In the corner, we stand
between her fence and the empty row her husband always tries
to plant, but the beet seeds never grow after he buries them.
My little one folds her thin legs, drops her spotted body
onto a soft batch of wild garlic greens, closer to me. The lady sees
this, slides her hand up under her soft
pink flannel, and she caresses her belly like it’s not empty.
Her husband, watching her from the kitchen, turns
back into the hallway, back to the garage, and he reaches
until he finally grasps a good long barrel
inside an American gun cabinet. This drought will have us all.
“Deer in Her Empty Garden” owes much of its inception to Indiana University’s Morgane Flahault. Flahault’s research on a local community’s troubled relationship with its large deer population—a displaced population—prompted the author’s poem. The author expresses deep gratitude for Morgane Flahault’s brilliant compassion and scholarship.
Aliah Lavonne Tigh has authored a poetry thesis, A Body Fully, and last year, a paper examining the economic backdrop of revolution. She holds poetry and philosophy degrees from the University of Houston and began her MFA at the University of Indiana. Presently, she splits desk time between her second full-length poetry manuscript and research for a smaller historically-themed poetry project.