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by Michael Lee

What about death isn’t a riddle?
A wolf slays a deer alongside a highway,

parts the ribs like a boy peering
through branches, and crawls inside.

First, its head disappears.
Then the shoulders.

When I slow my car to the side of the road
only its hind legs are kicking outside the body.

I walk towards the animals, now
a new, singular, animal. Not split

but made by splitting, the body
thrashed open. I gaze inside to find

nothing, but a citadel of nothing—bare
hide and ligaments—I speak

your single and holy name
into its belly. The sound rattled

like a spell. The sound grew
distant, and then it was gone.

The deer opened
its eyes.

Michael Lee is a Norwegian American writer, youth worker and organizer. He has received grants and scholarships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the LOFT Literary Center, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Winner of the Scotti Merrill Award for poetry from the Key West Literary Seminar, his poetry has been published in Ninth Letter, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Indiana Review, and Copper Nickel among other journals. Michael has worked as a dishwasher, a farm hand, a teaching artist, a social studies teacher, and a case manager for youth experiencing homelessness. He works and lives in North Minneapolis, spending his free time reading books and working in his garden.