The Safety of the Thicket

He loved to ask his mother questions. It was the pleasantest thing for him to ask a question and then to hear what answer his mother would give. Bambi was never surprised that question after question should come into his mind continually and without effort. 

Sometimes he felt very sure that his mother was not giving him a complete answer, was intentionally not telling him all she knew.  For then there would remain in him such a lively curiosity, such suspicion, mysteriously and joyously flashing through him, such anticipation, that he would become anxious and happy at the same time, and grow silent.
~Felix Salten from Bambi

A Wounded Deer—leaps highest—
I’ve heard the Hunter tell—
‘Tis but the Ecstasy of death—
And then the Brake is still!
~Emily Dickinson from “165″

My first time ever
seated next to my mother
in a movie theater, just
a skinny four year old girl
practically folded up in half
by a large padded chair
whose seat won’t stay down,
bursting with anticipation
to see Disney’s Bambi.

Enthralled with so much color,
motion,  music, songs and fun
characters, I am wholly lost
in a new world of animated
reality when suddenly
Bambi’s mother looks up,
alarmed,  from eating
a new clump of spring grass
growing in the snow.

My heart leaps
with worry.
She tells him
to run
for the thicket,
the safest place where
she has always
kept him warm
next to her.

She follows behind,
tells him to run faster,
not to look back,
don’t ever look back.

Then the gun shot
hits my belly too.

My stomach twists
as he cries out
for his mother,
pleading for her.
I know in my heart
she is lost forever,
sacrificed for his sake.

I sob as my mother
reaches out to me,
telling me not to look.
I bury my face
inside her hug,
knowing Bambi
is cold and alone
with no mother
at all.

My mama took me home
before the end.
I could not bear to watch
the rest of the movie 
for years.

Those cries
still echo
in my ears
every time someone hunts and shoots
to kill the innocent.

Now, my own children are grown,
they have babies of their own,
my mom is gone from this earth,
I can even keep the seat from folding
me up in a movie theater.

I am in my seventh decade, and
there are still places in this world where
mothers and fathers
sons and daughters
grandmothers and grandfathers
sisters and brothers
and babies are hunted down
despite the supposed safety of the thicket~
of the sanctuary, the school, the grocery store, the home,
where we believe we are shielded from violence.

There is innocence no longer,
if there ever was.

A book of beauty in words and photography, available to order here:

8 thoughts on “The Safety of the Thicket

  1. I can still recall the same horror that you felt, Emily when I saw this Disney favorite when I was very young. It was my first shocking introduction to the reality of death – especially that of needless death for ‘sport.’. Later, I could not abide the interest that my father and one of my four brothers had for hunting – mostly Partridge and Pheasant – and later male deer. I refused to eat any of the meat that they were given by the butcher who provided them with portions of their ‘kill.’
    I have always ‘dearly’ loved these exquisite, shy animals. Suburbia has stolen much of
    their former habitats here in NY State. Thank you for sharing this loving picture with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you Emily, Beautiful and beautifully said . I was with my ggs’ (grief girls) yesterday when two deer roamed through her backyard, south b’ham. She said there’s usually three.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I just have to share that I felt the exact same way, couldn’t finish the movie. And my mother says that anytime I wanted to feel sad I would ask her “Why did Bambi’s mother have to die?” and break into tears.

    I still have that feeling today… why did she? I want her to run fast and be with Bambi.

    Thanks for sharing.



    Liked by 1 person

  4. We were just talking about the movie Bambi with a 75 year old male friend who related the exact emotions you described. I believe there are endless reactions expressed by children completely surprised by the horror of Bambi losing his mother!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had to be tsken out of Bambi too:). Also Old Yeller. Never mind skipping where the red fern grows, or the one about the fawn flag. I think your right sblut innocence, I feel anout this world now. As I did so many years ago about the sadness of the movies. So grateful for the loving arms of my mother. Now gone as well and her constant comfort. I sometimes wonder if we could be the comfort to each other. Sadly it seems lost art, even when tried it seems rebuffed or is suspect. Precarious times we live in.

    Liked by 1 person

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