The Day the Deer Came

by Joanne Key

The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered
by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares
that will wake them into a more passionate world. – J.G. Ballard

Ivy ran wild in the airing cupboard; it filled our cavity
walls, absorbed our tap water and strangled our systems.

The boiler screamed like a speared pig. A wilderness nested
in the underground car park, the subway, as the wild things

came to claim our hollows, turn our dark spaces into arks,
our children into wolves. We woke to find beds not slept in

and scatterings of fur and teeth; Cinderella duvet covers
were clawed into quilts of blood and skin. We cringed at the sound

of antlers scraping and tapping on our windows; the heat
and steam rising from the rut in the summerhouse. All this.

It started with one small crack in the road; the wear and tear
of cars; the rush of traffic and baby buggies; the pounding

of feet and wheels; the slow soak-away. We ignored the scratching
of our skin and the rubbing of grooves – all the wearing down,

and through. We smiled at poppies secretly seeding our concrete
with the knotweed dreams that filtered into the sleepyheads

of our begonias, the bowling greens, our turf and garden magic.
In time, the fissure stretched itself wide and showed us the lining

of its empty purse, and as all our sorries fell to the ground, dancing
and spinning around like street performers, the deer came

without warning: heads held high and marching; hooves clanging
on the concrete like empty bells – mouths without tongues.