Dear God who lives inside the stag’s head
even after the stag’s shot and lies slumped and abashed
on the forest floor. Protect him.
Even after he’s been heaved onto the car’s dark roof.
Forest Green. Or Pacific Blue. Nowhere he can see.
His body stiffens like a trellis above the driver.
Help him. Hold him in your sight.
I know the age of prayer is over. I read it on my newsfeed.
Someone said someone said someone said, Faith is a weapon
of the Man.
When they take him down in the darkness
he looks like any body. Could you rest the muscle of your breath
against his neck so he won’t sag? So the man thinks he’s alive
and quakes in the awful company of the risen.
You are the Blue Lord I prayed for when I was hunted.
You came to me through the branches. I could hear you
in the upper room where I had hidden in the cupboard.
The moment the blade goes to gut him please make of his entrails
a phalanx of butterflies. And of his lungs a great bear
charging. My Lord. When I was the cowered beast
you turned me clear as water so the Hunter could not find me.
I beseech you. Abide.
Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the author of The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart and Apocalyptic Swing, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Times, Boston Review, Poetry, and New England Review, among others. Her awards and fellowships include a Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship from Stanford University, a Rona Jaffe Woman Writers Award, and residency fellowships from Civitella di Ranieri and the Lannan Foundation. “Who Holds The Stag’s Head Gets to Speak” is from her third book of poems, Rocket Fantastic. She is at work on a memoir, The Year I Didn’t Kill Myself. She is Senior Poetry Editor at Los Angeles Review of Books and teaches at UNC Chapel Hill and in Warren Wilson’s MFA Program.