Today's challenge was to write either about or from the perspective of an inanimate object. I sort of drew this one out slowly, starting with the idea of bones and uncovering something and eventually landing on a woman uncovering an old warrior - a man with the head of a stag. I think there's more to this story and I'm excited to keep writing about this couple. 

I found this image online when I was searching for references for a stag skull. It's a drawing by a UK artist named Louise Pallister and she does a lot of animal/wildlife art that is pretty incredible - realistic but still dreamlike, like it's slowly revealed:

stag skull sketch.jpg

the bone key


she dug a hole in the ground outside
her north carolina cabin
surrounded by the blue whispers of 
sugar maples and hickories
while the crows watched her hands press the dirt.

the moon promised to keep her secret
when she looked up with questions
and stars in her eyes.
it's seen worse in these dark forests
tales of ghosts and wild things
lost children reaching out in the night
for the brush of a hand.

she picks the stones aside
the mud soft and welcoming.
she hits something hard, something piercing
sticking up
and reveals
the bones of a stag
laid out as though it once had walked.

its antlers spoke of strength
tied like tree roots to the earth
sifting strong and lifting high
like towers in the distance.
in its skull, the teeth were true
the sockets deep and black
never to speak of what they’d seen.

skeletal, colossal, the head of dragon’s bane
this beast within the wood 
left hooves and half behind
its muscles sewn into the skin
of earth’s new winter coat.
she knew his battle scars
weren't dug within the grave
but still she felt them
here, and here
where his magic ran out
his chase gave way
and he laid down
one last time.

sitting back upon her knees
she drew her hands across his ribs
she said her prayers
and in his heart, she found a key.