Dear John,

by RENEE SOTO

I am not as available as you thought, nor as interested in home brewing or minor league baseball. All of that? Poses to draw you to me. I went after you like the Chumash hunter stalked the deer: from the sweathouse roof, the climb down the ladder, to a seat above hot stones and green branches, he sweat out every drop of scent before the steaming race to the sea. Lithe, naked, his body draped in deer hide— front legs, a tail, the head and antlers— and with bow and arrow, he entered the woods, crouched and chomping on sage leaves to mask any remaining man-smell. The hunter needs the deer, down to its sinew and hoofs. For a moment, I mistook you for necessity, for a minute, you believed. Here I am unmasked, sparing your life. Don’t miss me—you never met me.

RENEE SOTO lives in Bristol, Rhode Island, where she teaches in the BFA program at Roger Williams University and is the editor of roger, an art & literary magazine. Her poems and reviews have appeared in journals including Crab Orchard Review, The Greensboro Review, Indiana Review, and Post Road.