Buying Deer

(31 October - 11 November 1994) after Robert Frost

When I drive with you by Greenworld, an old gas station where immigrants sell plants, flowers, T-shirts, and seasonal paraphernalia, you smile and put your hand on my arm, saying, "Dear." Crude, willow reindeer pull a willow sleigh along the roof with red ribbons. You are actually saying, "Deer," as though you want me to buy some for you. But because I so adamantly refuse, thinking it’s funny you would want to have them in our yard, I can’t tell if you want them or say so to tease me. I’m such a backward child, escaping embarrassment by rejecting the lure, no play of offer and counter-offer, no token of friendship to weaken my resolve. I’m such a Spartan in religion that Santa Claus and the Easter bunny are graven images—no better than Jesus on the cross —however seriously I agree with what— suffering, generosity, spring and all—they represent. I don’t want them. I won’t have them. They would say I’m another conspicuous American, which, if I were, I wouldn’t admit. They would display acceptance of a packaged culture I don’t accept. That and all the other hype, tools for the merchandising of culture, I instinctively reject, with your hand on my arm, while to you, for all I know, they represent something altogether innocent, a moment of freedom, or comfort, security, or love.