White


A white deer is like a Venus Fly Trap that lives and actually eats flies, actually lures them into its hot-pink mouth and clamps shut around them, and lives off living flies by breaking them down with its acidic juices.  A white deer is not like one of those plain dull things called a Venus Fly Trap that lives off flies peeled off the flypaper in the barn, legless, wingless fly bodies dropped into its dead open mouth.
      We have a deer the color of talcum powder just beyond the garden.  We see him—because anything so fine boned and beautiful can only be a boy—sliding, a light shadow between the hissing green stalks of corn, and see him as brilliant as Santa's beard, giving whisper kisses to the tomatoes.
      He never breaks the skin.  He is always perfect white with no grass stains on his fuzzy sunk sailor lips.  We argue over what he could eat.  Not spaghetti, we say, and then we push one another down because that is the dumbest joke.  Our white cat, a color called white, but who is the color of white rose-buds in cinnamon potpourri, is pink at the mouth and feet from digging out baby mice from their nest and kneading them on the doormat.  White is a difficult color to keep.
      Peaches.  We agree.  They are as tiny as baby fists, yellow as the sun on the ocean, and tart as gummy worms in sour sprinkles.  Inside they are cloud white and the meat melts into water when we close our mouths around it.  We do not eat them, but we know.  We agree he eats the peaches.
      Where they hang is past the garden, closer to our house than the deer's house in the woods.  The peach tree, and there is only one, sits like a planted hand reaching up at the sky, right in the middle of the soft tame grass that is kept clipped short.  It is our tree in our yard and it is ornamental, with peaches to look at and to cup in a palm, but not for eating.  We do not go into the deer's woods and flip over rocks and stomp on wild violets.
      We agree that he thinks he is special, because he is the color of the forehead of a porcelain doll.  He thinks he can slip his white body into our yard and take what is ours and that we will be honored, because he is the white deer eating from our tree.  We are not honored.
      We go to the barn where the floor smells like sweet hay dust, where the little bodies of legless, wingless flies all hollowed out by summer heat crunch under our feet.  On the glue-paper-streamers above the dead flies' brothers and sisters struggle before the poison gets them.  They arc their crisp bodies pulling off their own legs.  They don't die just then.  Above us they hum in desperation.  We are too busy to stop and watch them, or to gather up the bodies and line them along the walls as warning to the others.
      We have things that need doing.
      The bottle is on a high up shelf to protect us from its skull and crossed bones contents, but we are together, and hoist, and stack, and lift until it is sloshing death in our hands.
      The sun is bone white glowing in the center of a sky the color of rubber bed sheets.  The peach tree smells green and dirty, but the fruit smells like hot pie, lemon-lime soda, and cool water sucked out of a garden hose.  We wet the hems of our dresses with the poison and the color disappears from the cloth.  We lift our hems above our waist showing our palest parts to sun while we polish each peach until it sparkles wet, then dry, and in our hands the tight fruit skin turns to tracing paper, and the meat shines through perfect white.  We agree.  The deer will be fooled.
      He comes through the woods at night like a flashlight beam on the ceiling, jarring off solid dark, moving faster than is possible.  He is there and then our eyes blink and he is somewhere else so unexpected that ours eyes blink again, certain we are tricked and then he is gone, then appears brightly somewhere else.
      And so the white deer comes through the whispering woods, the hissing garden, and onto the silent lawn like a lighter flicked open and shut.  Snuff, we whisper, seeing him lit against the nighttime.  The peaches are just as white, like ripe stars weighing down the tree's limbs.  Each branch heavy with the poisonous ghost of a peach bending like a mother with her breasts out, or a girl dancing with her top slipped down, or anything female in supplication, and who is he—even as beautiful as he is—not to be pulled to them.
      We are anticipation as he opens his pure chalk lips.  We breathe in deeply and the air sighs out steaming the windowpane.  Our hands knot in the bed-sheet.  We watch.  How gentle is his mouth?  He moves like he is kissing, but we are not fooled.  No matter how lovely he is an arrogant thief.  We will not be charmed, deceived.  If we let him he would eat all the peaches from our tree, then slip away, a light shadow, off to a new grazing ground.
      His lips ghost over the white ghost of the peach and we breathe a trembling breath as his perfect white teeth catch the flesh.
      We leave our bed to find him collapsed on the ground.  His soft lips pulled back, frothed with something like steamed milk.  How warm and comforting it looks roiling up from his handsome throat, bubbling on the grass.  We want so badly to get down on our knees and lick it from his tongue like we do whipped cream from the top of a mug of hot chocolate.
      The deer struggles to speak so we move closer to hear his words.  We must stop giggling.  We must go down on our knees and tilt our heads toward his mouth.  He whispers, "You stupid girls, I would've loved you."
      Each of us, we scoop a handful of the froth from his mouth to show him his own boiling insides, to show him who is stupid, but when our fingers touch what comes from him we are burned by it.  Our fingers are white with blisters and they spread and spread, up our arms and down our legs, across our faces, our scalps, and in the gentle night breeze the peaches tear loose and shatter like light bulbs spilling poison, and our hair lifts off our heads leaving us bald and vomiting pus onto the grass which turns white and brittle as frost.
      Our arms give way, unable to hold us, and we find ourselves in white ash, blinded by a white sky, or white ground, a white so white that it is as if we've closed our eyes, but they are open, seeing nothing.  We reach for one another, but there is nothing but endless-forever white.  
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