I am in the wood, among the trees, the thin bright aspen, white as bone. I am standing smack up against a tree, like it’s a wall I’ve run into. Forehead, chest, belly – all the hot and the soft places pressed up against the immovable. I fold my arms around it.

It folds its arms around me.

Its not a tree. It’s Deerman. Deerman whom I’d mistaken for a tree, so still he is. So rooted in belonging.

I am so glad to have found him, to have come home to this, his hands spread warm across my back.

Hush, he says, without speaking. Hush, though I haven’t made a sound, just this grinding of my bones, this pressure, this resistance to stillness, to yielding, this growl under my skin.

Deerman’s hands star my back, his breath slips over me, dusky as antler velvet. I hush.

I lean in and he bears my weight. He lifts a hand up under my hair. There are shelves of granite at the base of my skull. They come away in his hand.

Pretty soon, I think, Pretty soon, I will begin again.


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