by Kayla Rae Candrilli Issue: Fall 2015
The big game has locked
himself around two saplings.

There he rubbed the forest’s
velvet off his antlers.
And now the curved trees

grip his long tines. He shakes
his body, stamps his hooves:

leaves float one by one
to the ground. I wonder

about his will, wonder if the trees
or his antlers will give way

first. And soon, I hear before
I see one antler crack, broken
at the base and falling

to the forest floor. So there
he stands, asymmetrical

and beautiful; he doesn’t buck,
doesn’t grunt, doesn’t shake his half
a rack like a fist of knifes.

He just walks away, half his crown
left to trees that held him tightly.

Kayla Rae Candrilli is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, and an associate editor for NANO Fiction and the Black Warrior Review.  Candrilli was awarded first place in Vela Magazine's non-fiction contest, and is published or forthcoming in Rattle, Puerto del Sol, CutBank, Vinyl, The Chattahoochee Review, Booth, and others.