The What’s Happening To My Body Book For Deer

There are many things your parents may be too shy or embarrassed to talk to 
you about. We are here to reassure you that it is perfectly normal to be 
confused or upset about your changing physical form. After a life spent in 
the absence of antlers, it can be quite alarming when they begin to bud and 
then sprout from the soft fur of your head. Antlers come in all shapes and 
sizes, none better than any other. However, all deer begin to grow antlers 
on the hundredth day of their lives. If there is no sign of your antlers on 
this date, not even a portentous cloud, something is seriously wrong with 
you – this book cannot help.

You may notice some growing pains in your legs as they begin to lengthen, 
and in your eyes as they begin to show you the inevitable cracks forming 
in the very foundations of your reality. This happens to most young deer 
and should decrease in intensity around the time your fur starts to form 
itself into small barbed spikes around your hooves.

Your parents may be most reluctant to discuss with you your newfound taste 
for blood. To them, it represents your transition into adulthood, away from 
the innocent fawn who once only fed on grasses and bark. We are here to 
advise you that your first bloodmeal may be awkward or messy, but what is 
important is that you want it – what is important is that as your jaws 
clench around that first morsel of flesh and your teeth dig in, everything 
feels right, from the warm blood pooling in your cheeks to the sudden 
absence of a small creature’s shrieks or squeals, the silence you created 
in your own throat. 

the deer become stoners

they’re hotboxing a van
by the river with the bad kids
again, fur reeking of bong water,
eyes glassy and narrowed.
later they’ll roll out the door
through a cloud of smoke
and give the chipmunks
a contact high, show up
at 7/11 hungry for doritos
and gummy bears. sometimes
they end up on someone’s trampoline,
or breaking into a pool, but most nights
it’s the same burn run over
and over, a loop through woods
and fields, through a haze
of human smog.

the deer become pre-teens

suddenly, the woods are full
of magazine cutouts, glittered
with watermelon body spray,
echoing with shrieks 
& key-clacks & the telltale noise
of someone signing on to AIM.
the deer’s hooves are painted
ungodly colors and some of them
have stacks of bracelets
around their ankles 
and are daring each other
to rip them off.
their tattoos are temporary,
thank god, but a few
of them have figured out
how to get the older deer
to buy them wine coolers,
the hems of their skirts
and shirts inching higher
by the hour. the deer
can take care of themselves,
though. they’re smart girls.
you wouldn’t understand
the things they’re planning
on three-way calls.
you wouldn’t understand
the things they do
in the dark.

mall deer

it gets so you don’t notice them any more –
only the people coming from out of town
for the big H&M and the Super Target
seem to pay them any mind. sure,
three or four of them together
can get kinda rowdy,
and a couple once chased off
a TCBY employee
for being out of spicy mustard,
but overall the deer
are just like the rest of the teens –
shoplifting makeup,
getting their ears pierced at Claire’s,
gathering all the talismans against loneliness
this country has to offer.

up the elx

still wobbly-kneed and wet-eyed,
the fawns wear their vests
everywhere, sleeping curled
in camouflage broken only
by blue denim, itself broken
by pins and patches,
scrawled with slogans
and logos, screenprinted
by tiny hooves. 
they spend their nights
in sweaty basements,
crushing cans into the floor
and talking big about anarchy.
the fawns don’t know
that none of this will last,
that bands break up
or disappoint you,
that growing backs
burst the seams of vests,
leaving them on the forest floor
next to the antlers of their fathers. 

About Cassandra de Alba

Cassandra de Alba is a grad student in the greater Boston area. Her work has appeared in Skydeer Helpking, The Nervous Breakdown, and Vector Press, among others. She can be found online at and @cassandraintroy. View all posts by Cassandra de Alba

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