Here’s a nice and thoughtful one for today. Don’t know why I wanted to post it but I woke up this morning with it on my mind after reading it last night, so I guess it had the desired effect of the author.
TRAVELING THROUGH THE DARK
by William Stafford
Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.
By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.
My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.
The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.
I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.
When I first read this, I was absolutely appalled that the speaker didn’t try to save the unborn fawn. What kind of monster would kill a helpless, tiny baby deer? But, as usually happens, practicality swept over me and I realized that the did the right thing, as the deer would have most likely been killed on the road just like it’s mother. But just the fact that I’m still thinking about this poem after a full and long night’s sleep tells that it’s quite powerful.
On a possibly unrelated sidebar, I’ve never read a William Stafford poem before but I do have a history with him (maybe). I spent five great years at
I’ll probably sleep fine tonight.