THE DEER

An early December evening, driving out of the neighborhood,
thinking of my lists, always too much to do, seeing a string
of red brake lights ahead like a strand of Christmas
decorations, wondering why all these cars are stopped
when I'm in such a hurry. I idle in neutral, impatience
growing, and then I see: in the headlights' white stare:
a deer, hit by a car, trying to cross the road,
her useless hind legs dragging behind, her front hooves
clicking inch by inch. She is so close I can see the fear
in her eyes, her panting breath, rising white
in the black night. I want to stop the car, carry her
across, cradle her in my arms. But all I can do, for this
and all the sorrows of the weary world, is press
the pedal, grip the wheel, keep on driving.

Barbara Crooker
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