Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Dorothy and the Fawn

I've been tinkering with this since 2009 when I first saw the story in the Albuquerque Journal at Casa Bienvenu.

I was just as shocked as many other people, including the news aggregators must have been because the story hit all the wires.

My heart went out to Dorothy. The fawn was collateral damage in Dorothy's life, and I didn't wonder about the killing nearly as much as I did about Dorothy, and the media notoriety.


EUCLID, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio woman who found a fawn in her flower garden has been accused of beating it to death with a shovel.

Seventy-five-year-old Dorothy Richardson is charged in a warrant with animal cruelty at her Euclid home near the Cleveland Metroparks Euclid Creek Reservation, a wooded park where deer, foxes and other wildlife roam.
---Cleveland Plain Dealer

A GOOGLE search for Dorothy Richardson Euclid Ohio yields about 32,700 results in 0.24 seconds.


Old Dorothy, quiet as wildlife, steps across her hardwood kitchen floor and out into her backyard garden. She stands still and feels the morning sun on her arms and face.

A fawn, curled around itself in the tall grass, lifts its head, twitches its ears, and listens.

Songbirds, sound of the Interstate in the near distance.

The fawn, only a little less shaky than the night before, comes to its feet.

Old Dorothy and the fawn eye one another.

Time as thick and slow as humidity. Dorothy raises her hands and claps - twice. The sound barely moves through the air.

The fawn stands still, fast heart beating faster, and sniffs the air.

Old Dorothy, old heart beating harder, backs up to her house, and takes up the shovel leaning against the wall.

So many years ago, when Dorothy was a young bride, there was much more wildlife in the area: rodents, chipmunk, squirrel, raccoon; a wildcat once, and once a bear; and deer, of course, always deer. Deer were the worst and hardest to keep out. Dorothy begged her husband to fence the yard, and though he liked the idea of the wild passing through he relented. The fence has stood for fifty years, and though it has never kept the climbers out nothing as big as this fawn had entered.

Old Dorothy scans the fence. Her eye stops at a spot where a slat is missing; one slat, just large enough for the fawn to have squeezed through.

The dogs start up.

They had chased the fawn into the yard the night before and have returned to the scent.

The fawn, the dogs, the missing slat, the morning sun, the memories of other summers are too much for Old Dorothy. She bows her head, closes her eyes, and barely holds herself up, slumping against the shovel.

The fawn senses Dorothy's near absence, steps up to her, and brushes her hand with its cool nose.

The touch snaps her awake.   She puts all her strength into the shovel.





From a witness statement:

I could overhear Dorothy telling my neighbor how she killed a baby deer dead the morning before.

...the fawn was basically screaming.

And as she was beating it, she was asking it if it was dead yet.


Bruce Weigl, German poet, writes:

Anything murdered makes a horrible cry.


-----Frank James, National Public Radio


Dorothy, Dorothy
Alone in this world
Washed in the blood
Made the fool by NPR

Jesus come save us
Come down from your heaven
Come into the garden
Comfort your daughter
Come rescue poor Dorothy
from the deed she has done.

Dorothy catches her breath, stares at the small death in front of her.

Flies and bees dance around
the fawn's unblinking eye

- the police knock at her door.


It’s a big rat. He was in her flower-bed. She wasn’t in his flower-bed.
-----George Forbes, President, Cleveland NAACP


"When I was nursing my second baby
My husband found a day-old fawn hid in a fern-brake
And brought it; I put its mouth to the breast
Rather than let it starve, I had milk enough for three babies.
Hey how it sucked, the little nuzzler,
Digging its little hoofs like quills into my stomach.
I had more joy from that than from the others."

-----Fawn's Foster Mother
Robinson Jeffers


I killed it. I'd kill it again.

-----Dorothy Richardson


Old Dorothy
blind as a bat
and crippled
with arthritis
is wheeled
into her spring time
garden gone to seed
and seed
and seed
and shivers
as she remembers
some twenty years

Dark eyes
sweet & wild breath
fast heart beating faster
and the tilt
of earth
as terror
and blood
touch one another.

Old Dorothy
sighs and thinks
that we're all guilty
of something;
stories never
tell the whole truth;
and gardens
go to seed.

Old Dorothy
unclenches her hands
and feels the sun
rest upon her
one last time.


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