Deer Park

Ja’net Danielo


Your obit said it happened in Deer Park. Are there still deer
———-in Deer Park? I’ve never been. Know nothing

of scrub oak & pine, nothing of Long Island’s bright
———-dahlias—hybrid species in every color. I think now

of your eyes—navy like our Catholic school uniforms, like
———-dark blue of winter when night comes at 4 pm,

shaded concrete, the neighborhood & all its ink-stain
———-tragedies. But this isn’t about night or blue or a ring

& run, Jungle Jim’s backyard, thin string of cold
———-passed from your mouth to mine (lips cherry red,

a little too young for your face) as we crouched below
———-his kitchen window, small backs stiff against

broken brown shingles, steadying knees numb & sore
———-in a bed of dry leaves. That moment,  like you,

doesn’t live anymore. And Jungle Jim’s front yard
———-has been clear of weeds for years. But this isn’t

about that day or how I longed for you, wanted you
———-to love me, or the pang-hollowed gut (I feel it now)

or wrestling on the lawn, hands clasped with yours
———-as you tried to pull me down, or after school, waiting

for your neon-green BMX to ride down my block, gel-
———-spiked hair, gray sweatpants. Or the night before

Christmas Eve, when you rode that bike through
———-a snowstorm just to leave a card at my door,

my name on the envelope—all caps, heart drawn
———-around it. I saved that card for years. Was there

snow in Deer Park when it happened? I don’t know
———-why I’m writing towards you, towards blue.

In Deer Park, doe leave their fawn in the understory
———- (Is there a story under this growth, tangle of sedge

& forb?), hide them in tall grasses, in shade of scrub
———-oak & pine—to keep them safe from wolves.

But nothing is safe here. The bridge of your nose
———-disappears, marked ridge of your brow softens

its slope. There is only blue now. And winter. And
———-Deer Park, always Deer Park, where hungry wolves

stalk the perimeter, track our scent. So let’s bury it
———-under the snow, deep in the dirt—this moment

in a litany of moments blackened by the blue of winter,
———-the blue of the neighborhood, where a dark

blue eye is a bond between kids is a torment is a bike
———-ride in the snow is a card with my name in all

caps is a heart drawn around it is the shade of
———-scrub oak that covers the fawn, keeps it from

the sharp wet teeth of wolves.


Ja’net Danielo is the author of The Song of Our Disappearing, a winner of the Paper Nautilus 2020 Debut Series Chapbook Contest. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in DIALOGISTMid-American ReviewRadar PoetryGulf Stream, and Frontier Poetry, among other journals. Originally from Queens, NY, she lives in Long Beach, CA. You can find her at



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