You should see him. He's like a fucking spirit. He walks around loosely and comes down light. It's all very beautiful and poetic and luxurious. The ritual was brief, but forgiving. A birthday ritual - I was dressed as the totem deer. Your birthday. Your 23 long years of this have come down to this, sitting with some silly girl, not a deer at all, writing in milk and fire in a dark field. I almost feel compelled to tear out the antlers and apologize. For what, I can't say exactly. Not a pretty boy, like you. Not a blue eye. Barely an artist. Some fake fawn. Something there deeply disturbed me, maybe the dizzy lowing of cows in a distant pasture, maybe the sadness I'm not proud enough to admit, or the difficult, almost unfathomable admiration I hide for selfish reasons. The way the sun before dusk is the color of a traffic cone - how tacky. And my heart always pounds so hard and heavy when I lay next to someone for the first time, and I swear I can't breathe at all for at least five minutes. Not even really touching, but it's still such a thrill, and it happens so seldom. I lay there thinking about the thud-thud (skip) thud (skip) thud-thud-thud of my breath and body, begging, "Someone, make it stop!" It's just so mortifying. The unfamiliar, I mean. It really does manifest like illness. So I keep to myself, mostly, and prefer to sleep alone. Maybe I'm deranged . . . I wonder. Offense and defense never seem to balance out in me. It seems so dangerous not to shift to-and-fro.

So I'm a kid, and there's a groundhog out in the yard, in all its shocking simplicity. What am I supposed to think? I'd have never assumed it was dead all along.

The thing worked like a star.

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