Back to Issue Thirty-Eight




Tyres fast over gravel
sounds like pissing

Something tells her
not to go as far
as the abattoir

The sign for Deer 1/2 mile
has collapsed
by the roadside

She calls him deer
for his stubborn gentleness,
his legs in the tan dress
that hasn’t suited her for years

There! Through those trees
her teenage bedroom
in the upstairs window
of someone else’s house

Sometimes she looks down
at her feet now and asks,
who the hell do you think you are?

–trainers flecked with grass,
cycling through the countryside, a shock
of yellow headscarf

He, too, calls her deer
but she can’t be, can she?

–What doe would’ve worn fishnets
to a house party of hunters,
taken a pissy lift up
to their fifteenth-floor cabin
and knocked?

In these hooves?
Through an estate
built like Tetris?

Have you ever fled uphill–
hill of concrete,
acres of balconies identical
unanswerable doors–
reciting Psalm 23?

She speeds downhill
takes her feet o􏰏 the pedals
surely goodness and mercy will follow me

Her bike wobbles
a tooth loose
in the mouth of the road

Deer have milk teeth
They lose them
at eighteen months old.


Rachel Long is a poet and the founder of Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, which is housed at Southbank Centre in London. My Darling from the Lions, first published by Picador in 2020, is her debut collection. She was born in London, and resides there today.

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