Jeanette Hutzell: “Wasting Disease”

Wasting Disease

The CDC states that the symptoms of Wasting Disease are
drastic weight loss, stumbling, and listlessness.

I saw a dead deer in the middle of Route 31 driving home,
and his insides were sucked in till his bones stuck out.

My dad tells me in a curious tone during our weekly calls
that the wasting comes in and eats them from the inside out.

He then informs me, in an even more drastic way,
that it can definitely spread to humans from the meat,

but I think, driving back to small town United States,
it’s already here.

I passed by my favorite restaurant during deep dusk,
and the windows were boarded up and already vandalized.

The main road into town is starting to wash away,
and flood control can’t hold anymore of its rubble.

That bridge they claimed they would fix became a crater,
and the orange work sign has become a vague, plastic white.

I turn on my high beams and catch the eyes of a young buck,
breaking quickly so I don’t catch him on my car.

He blinks at me and his fog breath hitches out in the fall air,
and I see his sides sucked in like an empty duffle bag.

I watch him leave and then sit for awhile longer realizing
the sign for the street I live on has been stolen.

I’m driving through a hot carcass that isn’t even dead yet.

About the Author: Jeanette Hutzell works part time as a server while studying English Literature and English Writing at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. She grew up on her family farm in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania.

Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Abandoned store. Cambria, Illinois” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

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